The Alliance for Saving Scotland’s Rainforest (ASR) – is a voluntary partnership of 20 organisations, led by Plantlife, which collaborate together to deliver a shared vision that Scotland’s rainforest will thrive once again. They have an agreed strategy and have been exploring various ways to turn the theory into practice. Scotland’s rainforest is an exceptional and unique habitat which is also largely unknown outside of key, specialist audiences. This vital, but extremely rare, habitat mainly consists of largely isolated pockets of native woodlands found on Scotland’s west coast where high levels of rainfall and relatively mild, year-round temperatures provide ideal conditions for some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens. These areas face threats from high levels of grazing, from invasive, non-native species such as Rhododendron ponticum and exotic conifer plantations and from diseases, like ash dieback, as well as from nitrogen pollution, infrastructure development and climate change. However, regenerating Scotland’s rainforest could offer more than a simple habitat restoration project as it could also provide a crucial, nature-based solution to the current climate emergency, locking up carbon; supporting the rural economy through the creation and development of land-based jobs and skills; and providing key benefits for both physical and mental well-being.
Whilst the main focus of the ASR strategy is establishing landscape-scale projects, influencing public policy, enabling land managers and continually improving general understanding of how to best manage the rainforest, the lack of awareness of the rainforest is proving to be a real stumbling block. The HIEF grant will help to pay for someone to help raise the profile of the rainforest amongst key target audiences. ASR have already commissioned a film (created by Scotland: the Big Picture) and website which will also be part of the communication plans. In the short-term, ASR will focus on fundraising for a minimum of two landscape scale projects against the background of the green recovery agenda, the Scottish Government elections and the international climate conference. In the longer term, the assets will be used to promote ASR projects with other audiences, eg land managers, local woodland community groups etc.