Campaigners applaud plan to revitalize rainforest, dubbed the “prized gem of Britain’s natural landscape.”
Conservationists are commending the introduction of a recent government plan aimed at revitalizing the remaining pieces of the expansive temperate rainforests that were once considered a prized aspect of Britain’s natural landscape.
The temperate rainforest, also referred to as the Atlantic woodland or Celtic rainforest, used to dominate the majority of western Britain and Ireland. The archipelago’s damp and mild climate is well-suited for the growth of lichens, mosses, and liverworts. However, over time, much of this habitat has been destroyed, leaving behind only small, fragmented areas.
Only 189 square kilometers (46,624 acres) of the original ecosystem that used to extend from Cornwall to western Scotland still exists in England. This small portion is at risk due to overgrazing by sheep, the presence of invasive species, and nitrogen pollution.
After a three-year campaign, the government released their plan in late November to protect and restore England’s temperate rainforests. They also allocated £750,000 for research and development efforts.
The plan involves a promise to safeguard and revive the globally scarce environments and employ collaborations between the public and private sectors to finance their preservation. Additionally, there is a vow to decrease the impact of deer grazing, a major obstacle in the restoration of forests. The government has stated its intention to collaborate with farmers and landowners to safeguard regions of temperate rainforests located on their properties.
Guy Shrubsole, the leader of the Lost Rainforests of Britain campaign, expressed enthusiasm about the development but also urged for a goal to be established to increase the size of British rainforests by 2050.
“Until 2021, the topic of temperate rainforests was never brought up by a politician in the UK parliament. However, the government has now not only acknowledged it, but has also dedicated entire official policy documents to this habitat,” he remarked. “It’s exciting to witness this change.”
Shrubsole, the author of a successful book on the rainforests in Britain, stated: “The government must establish a definitive goal of doubling the amount of rainforests.”
“He emphasized the importance of addressing issues such as rhododendron and acknowledged the need to address the problem of overgrazing sheep. He urged members of the community to volunteer and continue to actively participate in the efforts.”
According to the director of policy for the Wildlife Trusts, Joan Edwards, temperate rainforest is a scarce habitat that used to be a prized aspect of Britain’s natural environment. The remaining areas of this habitat have an abundance of plant diversity, including a wide variety of mosses, lichens, liverworts, and ferns.
“We support the government’s plan to allocate funds towards restoring and managing temperate rainforests, in line with the goal of protecting 30% of land by 2030. We eagerly await a more comprehensive strategy in the near future.”
Environmental groups have been advocating for a governmental plan and increased attention towards the ecosystem, including organizations such as the Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, RSPB, National Trust, and Plantlife. The general public has been contributing to this effort by locating and determining remaining fragments through the observation of indicator species like lichens, mosses, and liverworts.
In February, the private sector, specifically Aviva, committed £38m towards restoring the rainforests as part of their sustainability program. The insurance company is collaborating with Wildlife Trusts and the funds are already being utilized to increase the size of British rainforests. Projects have already been initiated in areas such as north Wales, Devon, and the Isle of Man.
The forestry minister, Rebecca Pow, expressed her appreciation for the efforts of activists who have spearheaded a motivating movement. She eagerly anticipates collaborating with them to safeguard these one-of-a-kind locations.
She stated: “The United Kingdom boasts globally unique temperate rainforests that provide a diverse range of habitats for rare species and plants. These rainforests have been around for centuries and hold great significance as part of our natural heritage. It is crucial that we take steps to support and safeguard them for the benefit of future generations.”
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