England’s largest temperate rainforest is to become a new National Nature Reserve, Natural England is set to declare today

Temperate rainforests are found in places that have high rainfall and humidity and a low annual variation in temperature.  The humidity and low temperature range create truly unique biodiverse habitat often rich in lichen and mosses. Once abundant in the UK due to the oceanic climate, this globally rare habitat now covers less than 1% of England’s surface.

Borrowdale – a 721-hectare National Trust site in Cumbria – is the wettest inhabited place in England, the rainfall in the upper end of the valley is twice that of the lower end which has created a landscape that drips with lush vegetation.

The upland woodlands are rich carbon stores full of rare lichens, mosses and liverworts. These specialised plants hold an important place in a busy farmed landscape.

The new National Nature Reserve will conserve and restore the ancient oaks, birches and ferns which have climbed the steep slopes for thousands of years and will also support important upland birds such as redstarts, pied flycatchers, tree pipits and the iconic red squirrel, for which the woodlands are a stronghold.

Through this declaration, the National Trust will improve access to nature for local people as well as visitors and protect the longstanding cultural heritage of Borrowdale, with a valued continued commitment from the tenant farmers to prioritise nature conservation which builds on traditional practices which have shaped the landscape for generations.

The National Trust is consulting with and working alongside local farmers to help them access payments to further important conservation work which is an essential part of the management of the NNR and the surrounding land.

Marian Spain, Chief Executive at Natural England, said:

“This landmark declaration is an important step forward for nature recovery in England. Operating at a landscape scale, reconnecting parcels of the forest and creating corridors for wildlife will make these iconic habitats more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“This declaration demonstrates the power of working together to accelerate nature recovery, and we are delighted to share this journey with the National Trust and the tenant farmers, which have long been the custodians of this landscape, to protect the precious rainforest for future generations.”

Jane Saxon, General Manager for the North and West Lakes, National Trust said:

“The new declaration is a testament to the increased focus on caring for and enhancing the rainforest while celebrating the impact this unique landscape has had on the natural and cultural heritage of the Borrowdale valley.

“By creating this nature reserve, we are actively managing the woodlands for nature conservation and access through compatible practises.

“Today, less than 1% of the land in the UK is covered by temperate rainforest, and as such it’s particularly important to conserve this rare habitat for future generations.  This declaration is a step towards a successful joint management approach for nature with our tenants and spreading awareness on how unique and precious this nature reserve is.”


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