May 24 2019

Atlantic Woodland Alliance – Saving Scotland’s Rainforests

Woodland Trust has brokered an alliance between some of Scotland’s largest nature conservation organisations in a bid to save the countryā€™s dwindling rainforests.


Birchwoods at Ben Shieldaig. Pic by Phil Formby


Members of the Atlantic Woodland Alliance gathered at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Monday May 20 for the launch of a report outlining the current condition of these rare woodlands.  The partners will now work to implement a strategy to save and expand them.


The Alliance is made up of Butterfly Conservation Scotland, the Community Woodlands Association, Forestry and Land Scotland, Future Woodlands Scotland, John Muir Trust, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, the National Trust for Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life and the Woodland Trust Scotland. More partners are sought.


The Alliance was driven forward by Woodland Trust’s Adam Harrison and is the culmination of work on our West Coast Treescape.


The new report reveals that there is as little as 30,325 hectares of rainforest left in Scotland. The remnant oak, birch, ash, native pine and hazel woodlands are small, fragmented and isolated from each other. They are over mature and often show little or no regeneration. They are in danger of being lost forever.


  • Almost all of the rainforest is over grazed to a degree that will prevent it from re-growing.
  • Invasive rhododendron can be found in 40% of rainforest sites where it threatens to choke the woodlands and prevent the distinctive rainforest flora from surviving.
  • One in every five sites have been planted up with exotic conifer plantations which lower their value as rainforest habitat.
  • Ash dieback threatens the future of our northern and western most ash woods.
  • Climate change and air pollution are set to decimate the last refuge for the rare plants that make the rainforest so special to us and the rest of the world.
The Alliance will now work to deliver a strategy aimed at saving and expanding the existing sites. Creation of at least two large landscape projects to join up a network of sites is being examined. There are also moves to create a grant scheme to aid landowners conserving the woods. Advice and support will be available to community groups interested in taking on ownership and management of sites.
George Anderson
Scotland PR and Communications Officer
1 Comment
  • MaggieMcCallum

    The report is well worth a read, and is beautifully illustrated!

    I helped out at a community event at Aberfoyle in early spring, where activities (including clearing some rhodies) were on offer to raise awareness of these issues among people living alongside such a woodland. The site used was immediately adjacent to an SSSI woodland (Cuilvona and Craigmore Woods, see It was organised by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Tree and Woodlands Adviser.

    I tried to illustrate this comment with an image of hazel glove fungus from a visit to the spectacular Glasdrum Wood NNR, but text only here!

    May 24, 2019 at 12:33 pm

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