Rainforest: Why Scotland, not just Brazil, needs to look after this precious habitat – Scotsman comment

For many people in Scotland, the word ‘rainforest’ brings to mind images of the Amazon basin and, perhaps, concern over the increasing rate of destruction of that extraordinary and special place.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is cause for international concern but Scotland needs to look after what remains of its own rainforest (Picture: Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

It may come as a surprise that Scotland too has rainforest but then not much actually remains, with as little as 30,000 hectares classed as “Atlantic woodland” or “Celtic rainforest”, comprising just two per cent of this country’s woodland cover.

Now 21 organisations and public bodies which make up the Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest have released a video to highlight the importance of this precious habitat as they endeavour to reverse its fortunes.

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Scotland’s rainforest: What is it, where is it and why is it under threat?

Just fragments of oak, native pine, birch, ash and hazel woodlands still exist on Scotland’s west coast. High rainfall, mild temperatures and clean air enable rare plants such as mosses, liverworts and lichens, which help maintain humidity levels and give the forest a “magical feel”, according to some, to thrive.

The main threats are from invasive, non-native species, particularly Rhododendron ponticum, and over-grazing mostly by deer, but other problems include the planting of ‘exotic’ conifers, the disease known as ash dieback, climate change and air pollution.

According to the alliance’s website, “if we don’t start taking serious and urgent action to support and protect our rainforest, we face the risk of losing this internationally important habitat completely”.

Many people are dismayed over the increasing rate at which the Amazon rainforest is being felled, but before we criticise events in Brazil and other countries, we should seek to put our own backyard in order.

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