Did you know?

The climatic conditions required to form rainforest occur over less than 1% of the planet.

What is temperate rainforest?

Otherwise known as Atlantic woodland, temperate rainforest is found in areas subject to the influence of the sea (places with 'high oceanicity'). These places have high rainfall and humidity and a low annual variation in temperature. 

This unique habitat of ancient oak, birch, ash, pine and hazel woodland is made even more diverse by open glades, boulders, crags, ravines and river gorges.

Where is temperate rainforest found?


Rainforests in the UK are part of the Coastal Temperate Rainforest biome. This habitat is globally rare and some say is more threatened than tropical rainforest. The green areas on the map below show just how rare it is.

In the UK

Ideal conditions for temperate rainforest are found along the UK's western seaboard, including:

  • West coast of Scotland
  • North and west Wales
  • Devon
  • Cornwall
  • Cumbria
  • parts of Northern Ireland.

Even within the UK, the location of this kind of woodland can influence the condition and species present at each rainforest site. The biodiversity of rainforests in south west England for example differ markedly to those in north west Scotland.

*Maphobbyist, Temperate rainforest map, CC BY-SA 3.0


Inside Britain's rainforests


Take a glimpse into Britain's beautiful and fragile temperate rainforests and discover more about the rare and globally important species that live there.

Watch the film

Visit UK rainforest

Experience Britain's rainforest for yourself. We care for special rainforest sites across the UK, all free for you to explore and enjoy.

Did you know?

The richness of lichens in these parts of the UK is partly because the western extremities have been least affected by air pollution historically. Tree lungwort would once have occurred all across western Europe.

Temperate rainforest wildlife

Rainforests are one of the most biodiverse habitats in the UK. The high humidity and low temperature range create the perfect conditions for moisture-loving lichens and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts).

A good example of this habitat could contain over 200 different species of bryophytes and 100-200 species of lichen. The UK has an international responsibility to protect many of these species due to their scarce global distribution.

Credit: Alastair Hotchkiss / WTML


Temperate rainforests are particularly good for Lobarion and Graphidion lichens. Probably the most recognisable is tree lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) which is a large, leafy lichen. It literally looks like the lungs of the forest. Then there's the rare ‘blackberries-in-custard’ lichen (Pyrenula hibernica, pictured), a ‘crustose’ lichen which presses tight to the smooth bark of trees like hazel, and characteristically splits the bark.

Credit: Jan Hamilton / Lorn Natural History Group


Temperate rainforests are rich in fungi. Some are not just rare in the UK, but are globally scarce. Hazel gloves fungus (Hypocreopsis rhododendri) is a conservation priority species that almost exclusively grows on old hazel trees. It's a sure sign of clean air and a wood's ancient origins.

Credit: Andy Sands / naturepl.com


Migrant birds such as pied flycatcher, wood warbler, redstart and tree pipit thrive in the insect-rich conditions temperate rainforests offer, flying here to breed each summer. In the UK, the rare chequered skipper butterfly is also only found in the mild, damp and grassy habitats at the woodland edges of rainforest in western Scotland.

Threats to temperate rainforest

The rainforest was once a well-used resource, providing timber, charcoal and tannin for tanning leather. But our rainforest is threatened. It has suffered long term declines through clearances, chronic overgrazing, and conversion to other uses. This has left a small and fragmented resource.

The major threats continuing to impact our rainforests are:

  • invasive species
  • disease like ash dieback
  • high levels of grazing, primarily from deer
  • uncertainty over how rural areas and woods in particular will be supported in the future.

Rhododendron (specifically Rhododendron ponticum and associated hybrids) has been called ‘the most damaging and most widespread non-native terrestrial plant in Britain’. Introduced to the UK around 1760, it’s an aggressive coloniser that reduces the biodiversity value of a site. It obstructs the regeneration of woodlands and once established, it’s difficult and costly to eradicate.

The small and fragmented nature of our rainforest also reduces its resilience against other threats, such as pests, diseases and climate change.

Help save our rainforests

Time is running out for our precious rainforests. We must act now before it’s too late.

To ensure a secure future for this rare habitat, long-term management is essential. We've already achieved so much at the woods we own and care for in the west coast rainforest zone, but there is still a great deal more to do.

Please support our Rainforest Appeal. Our work to protect the UK’s temperate
rainforests is just one example of the vital conservation work we are doing every day to protect, enhance and restore the UK’s native woodland for the benefit of wildlife and people. Your donation will be used where it is most needed. Thank you.

Misty mountainside, Scots Pine, Ben Shieldaig

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Help support our vital conservation work to protect our vanishingly rare woodland habitats before we lose them forever.

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More on temperate rainforests

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