Boost for Scotland’s rainforest recovery as RSPB takes on nature reserve
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Responsibility for the former national nature reserve, located on the tip of the Morvern Peninsula on the south shore of Loch Sunart, has been handed over to the RSPB by NatureScot.
Through the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, RSPB Scotland and other organisations share aims in promoting, restoring and connecting the country’s rainforests.
Despite being less well-known than tropical rainforests, those in good condition in Scotland can contain as many as 200 species of lichen, mosses and liverworts in just one hectare.
A wide variety of insects and birds, such as wood warbler, are also supported in this type of environment.
Glencripesdale Nature Reserve is in one of the most remote areas of Scotland, largely only accessible on foot or by boat, offering greater protection for at-risk flora and fauna.
However, much of Scotland’s rainforest has been lost, with the remnants highly fragmented and often in need of restoration due to invasive species, as well as pressure from animals such as deer, which eat young seedlings and can prevent natural regeneration.
The wildlife conservation charity said the nature reserve is a “significant piece of the fragmented jigsaw” and is set to play an important role in the ambition to address the challenges facing such woodlands.
It added that it is looking forward to working with the local community and landowners as it strives to restore the area, with benefits expected for local jobs as well as the climate and rare species.
Dave Beaumont, RSPB Scotland’s operations director for South Scotland, said: “We are excited to bring Glencripesdale under RSPB Scotland ownership and to tackle some of the issues facing this special woodland.
“We will need to remove invasive non-native species such as rhododendron along with Sitka spruce and reduce the impact of deer on tree regeneration.
“We do not underestimate the challenge that this will be in such a remote area. We are grateful for the support of local people and the Sunart and Morvern community councils and are looking forward to working with them and local contractors to manage this important woodland and help to restore its former extent and value for wildlife.
“We hope this will kick-start a much bigger restoration project across the whole of Morvern helping to restore Scotland’s rainforest on a landscape scale.”
Chris Donald, NatureScot’s head of operations for Central Highland, added: “Scotland’s ancient woodlands are small, fragmented and failing to thrive.
“Selling our land at Glencripesdale to RSPB Scotland is an exceptional opportunity for NatureScot to support a major landscape-scale restoration project, as we work ambitiously with partners across all sectors to reverse the biodiversity crisis and protect 30% of Scotland’s nature by 2030.
“As we strive for a future of nature networks across Scotland, this internationally important western oak woodland, prized by RSPB Scotland as a site for the Saving Morven’s Rainforest restoration project and the wider Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, offers an example of what is possible through evidence-based management of our natural sites.”