Scottish experts are developing a way to help save Celtic rainforest

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Academics at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have created a programme which calculates how decisions now will combine with future climate change to effect biodiversity.

Forest managers can input different development ideas into the system which will show them instantly what the situation will be in the year 2080, allowing them to assess the implications of, for example, establishing a wood fuel business.

The £100,000 programme has been funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation as part of ClimateXChange, the Scottish Government’s Centre of Expertise in Climate Change.

Experts from around the world will help to finetune the programme which will be discussed at the European Congress on Conservation Biology in Glasgow later this month entitled ‘Ecosystems on the Edge’.

Dr Christopher Ellis, RBGE Head of Cryptogam (researching lower plants including mosses and lichen), is developing the innovative programme.

He said: “Some of the world’s most important rainforest is on the west coast of Scotland and there are lichens there which are so common people think of them as weeds but elsewhere they are really rare. This tool is pretty innovative in linking the macroscale big picture of climate change with the microscale of how to manage a habitat to offset climate change.

“The conference presents a valuable opportunity for us to raise awareness of these fragile ecosystems and share experience among delegates from around the world.”

Experts from Scotland will be joined by colleagues from North America, Norway, Sweden and Iceland on site visits to some of Scotland’s premier rainforest habitats such as Knapdale and Ardnamurchan, examining Atlantic hazelwoods and oakwoods and discussing conservation problems in Scotland.

The congress runs from August 28 to September 1 at the SECC.