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Photographer John MacPherson, with thanks to Atlantic Scottish Rainforest Alliance
A new community garden in the heart of Port Appin

Rainforest Regeneration Project

Increasing biodiversity and mitigating the effects of climate change

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Appin Community Development Trust are well underway with the development phase of a Rainforest Regeneration Project to cover the Appin Community Council Area.

We have successfully secured funding for the development phase of the project, and this includes community engagement and opportunities for you to shape the development of the project.

The project is supported by Appin Community Council, Scottish Forestry, NatureScot and Native Woodlands Cooperative.

Click here to download the Project leaflet>

Contact details: Victoria Kynaston – Development Officer, email

Appin Community Development Trust Rainforest Regeneration Project
Appin - home to some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens
Photographer John MacPherson, with thanks to the Atlantic Scottish Rainforest Alliance.

Scotland’s temperate rainforest is as important as tropical rainforest, but even rarer. Also known as Atlantic woodland and Celtic rainforest, it is made up of native woodlands found on our west coast in the so-called “hyper-oceanic zone”. Here, high levels of rainfall and relatively mild, year-round temperatures provide just the right conditions for some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens. Only 30,000 hectares remains in Scotland, an area roughly the same size as Edinburgh.

Our rainforests are faced with multiple large-scale threats, and if we don’t take action, we risk losing this important habitat completely. A big threat is invasive species such as Rhododendron Ponticum. Too many or too few grazing animals also threaten these special places. To add further pressure, climate change is predicted to shrink the narrow climatic zone that this rainforest relies upon.

Appin is home to significant areas of Scotland’s rainforest remnants, including the Glen Creran Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which is threatened by invasive species and inappropriate grazing levels. Part of this SAC has already been included in a rhododendron control programme, and this project will consolidate and expand upon this work.

Regeneration of the Scottish Rainforest will increase biodiversity and contribute to carbon capture essential in mitigating the effects of climate change. In addition, restoring and expanding this unique habitat will provide new employment opportunities, recreation and leisure activities, and allow people to enjoy the magic of the rainforest for generations to come.

Appin Community Development Trust Rainforest Regeneration Project
Exploring Appin's rain forest.
Photographer John MacPherson, with thanks to the Atlantic Scottish Rainforest Alliance.

Become involved

Invasive species can only be dealt with at a landscape scale: if some plants are left, then they will spread out again, and put at risk the benefits that control can deliver. This is why we are asking you to become involved in the project.

So what is involved in the development phase?

  • Community engagement
  • Trainee recruitment
  • Landowner discussions
  • Survey of Appin land
  • Mapping of non-native invasive species
  • Habitat impact assessment to find out the effect of deer and other herbivores on the rainforest
  • Planning for delivery phase- applying for funding, securing the mechanisms needed for non-native removal and management

So what are the non-native invasive species threatening the remnants of rainforest? In Scotland, four invasive plants cause the most damage:

Rhododendron Ponticum


Rhododendron Ponticum

Invasive rhododendron colonises our rainforest fast, outcompeting native trees and shading out rare plants, resulting in significant biodiversity loss. It also spreads onto open ground, threatening farming livelihoods.

Fallopia japonica

Japanese Knotweed

Fallopia japonica

Japanese Knotweed can cause extensive damage to both property and our natural environment. Its roots can grow three metres down into the earth, and seven metres across. These thick, strong roots will spread rapidly, letting almost nothing get in their way.

Heracleum mantegazzianum

Giant Hogweed

Heracleum mantegazzianum

Giant Hogweed is a poisonous species which competes with native plants and disrupts local ecosystems. Its’ rapid growth and ability to colonise disturbed habitats make it a threat to native biodiversity as well as human health.

Impatiens glandulifera

Himalayan Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera

Himalayan Balsam causes a major problem as this plant overshades and outcompetes smaller, native plants. Over time, native species die, leaving only Balsam which dies back in winter to leave bare ground, particularly exposing riverbanks to the risk of erosion.

Two other species also have great potential to be invasive in certain habitats:

Symplocarpus foetidus

American Skunk Cabbage

Symplocarpus foetidus

American Skunk Cabbage, or Symplocarpus foetidus, can quickly begin to establish a large infestation, suffocating other species. The large growth boom can also end up blocking small waterways.

 Gunnera tinctoria

Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria, also known as Giant Rhubarb, originates from South America. It is becoming widespread in western Scotland, covering areas of grazing land and natural habitats.

Appin Community Development Trust Rainforest Regeneration Project
Photos by John MacPherson, with thanks to the Atlantic Scottish Rainforest Alliance

What next?

  • Development Phase to be completed between February and the end of September 2024
  • Contact with Landowners to discuss survey work
  • Survey and mapping
  • Planning for Phase 1 of the delivery work
  • Securing funding for project delivery

What would the delivery phase involve?

  • Removal of non-native invasive species, prioritising Rhododendron Ponticum
  • Information and guidance to landowners and garden owners on management post-removal
  • The implementation of appropriate grazing regimes, which might include support of conservation grazing by cattle and different approaches to deer management

How can members of the community get involved?

  • Come along to community engagement events to learn more about the project, the rainforest in Appin and the special species that we need to protect. The next event will be held on Friday 6 September between 3-6pm in Port Appin Hall, more information will be shared shortly to our Members, through social media and local posters
  • Support with survey work, providing access to land where non-native species are present
  • Informing us where you know these species are in Appin
  • Volunteering opportunities coming up in the field
  • Share this information with others
Appin Community Development Trust Rainforest Regeneration Project
Photos by John MacPherson, with thanks to the Atlantic Scottish Rainforest Alliance