We are delighted to be able to share with you that RSPB Scotland have taken on a new site, Glencripesdale nature reserve, located on the Morvern Peninsula, on the south shore of Loch Sunart in the Western Highlands of Scotland. Izzy Baker tells us more.

Why Glencripesdale?

Glencripesdale nature reserve is part of Scotland’s rainforest, a very rare habitat that is fragmented and under threat.

When you hear the word rainforest, it probably conjures up images of tropical rainforests with howler monkeys and colourful parrots. Our temperate rainforests are just as special for biodiversity, but even rarer. Yet few people in Scotland know it exists and even fewer know how globally significant it is.

Scotland’s rainforest is made up of the native woodlands found on our west coast, where high levels of rainfall and mild temperatures provide just the right conditions for some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens.

Close up of mosses and tiny ferns

Wilson's filmy fern by Izzy Baker

Our rainforest has reduced in size, only covering one fifth of the area it could. It has become fragmented, and the remaining habitat is under threat.

Glencripesdale nature reserve is a significant piece of the fragmented jigsaw. Now that we have purchased the reserve the hard work can begin. Our plans are to restore the rainforest habitat through removing invasive non-native rhododendron and non-native spruce, and to increase its resilience through expansion and regeneration which has been hampered by deer browsing. We may also need to reintroduce lost tree species such as aspen that herbivores find particularly palatable and that weren't retained in high numbers historically when it was a commercial woodland.

It is not going to be a quick or easy job… The reserve is remote, with no public road. It is steep and a challenging environment to work in. But we have an enthusiastic and dedicated team who want to ensure the reserve’s success.

River with steep moss-covered bank to the right and branches fallen across also festooned with moss

Gully at Glencripesdale by Izzy Baker

Just part of the plan

We are really excited to be able to secure the future of this magical woodland and the incredible biodiversity it can support.

However, purchase of Glencripesdale nature reserve is just one part of a much bigger vision. RSPB Scotland is committed to Scotland’s Rainforest. We would like to promote, restore, expand and connect the fragments of rainforest across Scotland. This requires working at a landscape scale with our partner organisations, communities and landowners.

A  logo - on the left a teardrop outline of blue and green lines coming from the centre and a white saltire cross overlaid. On the right the words Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest

Through the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, RSPB Scotland are leading a project called ‘Saving Morvern’s Rainforest’

The main aims of the project are:

  • To eradicate rhododendron. We aim to achieve this by employing a local works team and offering traineeships to deliver this work on the ground, creating local employment and developing rural skills in the community.
  • Allow rainforest regeneration. Enhancing grazing management in key areas, working with the local estates and deer management groups.
  • Support woodland restoration and expansion through planting. To establish a local tree nursery, providing local provenance seedlings. Once set up we hope this can become a sustainable community enterprise.
  • Secure the future of Glencripesdale nature reserve on Morvern, restoring and protecting it’s rainforest habitat.

Bright sunlight shines through branches of oak and birch trees

Oak and birch woodland at Glencripesdale by Andy Robinson

The project is working in partnership with the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest – and partner organisations including Woodland Trust Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, NatureScot and Forestry and Land Scotland. We are also working with community members and local landowners to ensure the outcomes of this project have a long legacy.

Our ambitions are large, and the pace at which we can work at depends on funding availability. If you would like to find out more or contribute to the project, take a look at the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest website, and our project page ‘Saving Morvern’s Rainforest’.

Close up of wood sorrel (flower with five large oval petals that are white with purple streaks and large lobed green leaves) with more out of focus behind along with trees stretching away into the distance

Wood sorrel by Izzy Baker

Header image: Glencripesdale shore at Camas Sallach looking west