The Celtic Rainforest

Celtic Rainforest is a recent term which refers to the temperate broadleaf woodlands found along the extreme western seaboard of Europe. In the past they were usually referred to separately as Atlantic Oakwoods and Atlantic Hazelwoods. The temperate rainforest should also include remnant ash-elm woodlands which now exist mainly in the form of fragmentary wood pasture. In the western Highlands these woodlands survive as fragments on the slopes of steep-sided glens and bordering sea lochs.

A small annual temperature variation, high humidity, and high levels of annual precipitation provide conditions that make these woods a nationally important habitat for Atlantic bryophytes. Numerous species of rare mosses, liverworts, and lichens are found here. Characteristic migrant birds such as redstart, pied flycatcher and wood warbler are now less common than they once were. Deer, badgers and pine martens are widespread whilst the Scottish wild cat is today a great rarity. The woodlands in Lochaber and north Argyll hold the greater proportion of the UK’s chequered skipper butterflies. The nationally declining pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly is still common and widespread here.

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