Resources for identifying temperate rainforests

This is a work-in-progress list of tools and resources for anyone looking for further information on how to identify temperate rainforests. I’ll continue adding to it over time.

If you’re visiting temperate rainforests, please remember they’re very rare habitats and must be treated with respect and awe! Follow the Countryside Code at all times, leave no trace, take only photos.

How to identify temperate rainforest

  • Bryologist Ben Averis’ guide, Drizzle, Midges & Moss (2020) is an excellent free online resource for helping to identify temperate rainforests and the mosses, lichens and liverworts that thrive in them. It’s beautifully illustrated with Ben’s drawings and photos, and is funny to boot.
  • PlantLife also publish various more detailed identification guides for the species of epiphytic lichens and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) that are particularly good indicators of temperate rainforest. Click here for PDF guides one, two, three, four.
  • The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas is an amazing resource if you want to take species identification to the next level. You can look up distribution maps for any species, see records submitted by botanists, and submit your own sightings. To get you started, search the NBN Atlas for ‘tree lungwort’ (Lobaria pulmonaria), a spectacular lichen that’s a good indicator of temperate rainforest.
  • If you’re getting really into the botanical detail, the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Field Guide to Woodlands is where it’s at: check out especially woodland NVC Types W11 and W17.

Maps showing the temperate rainforest ‘bioclimatic zone’

  • Climate is clearly a crucial factor in where temperate rainforests are able to grow – the epiphytic lichens, mosses, liverworts and polypody ferns that characterise this amazing habitat need growing conditions that are both very wet and sufficiently mild. The Atlantic west coast of Britain has many areas with this ‘oceanic’ climate, but pinning down precisely where is rainy enough and mild enough is trickier. My Lost Rainforests Google Map contains a layer that attempts to outline this ‘temperate rainforest bioclimatic zone’, created by academic Christopher Ellis in 2016 (the green grid squares).
  • But there are various ways to map this potential bioclimatic zone (with different measures or indices of ‘hygrothermy’ or ‘oceanicity’). Check out bryologist Ben Averis’ draft oceanicity maps here to get another sense of where temperate rainforests may be found across Britain (updated versions are also under production).


  • Clifton Bain’s The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland (2015), is a beautifully-illustrated guide to some of the temperate rainforest sites of the British Isles, though it doesn’t claim to be comprehensive.

NGOs and charities

  • Wild Haweswater is a project run by the RSPB and United Utilities to protect and restore a large area of the Lake District, including fragments of temperate rainforest.
  • Celtic Rainforests Wales is a project aiming to restore temperate rainforest over four locations in Mid- and North Wales.

3 thoughts on “Resources for identifying temperate rainforests

  1. Is it possible that these habitats could be found further East? I am struck by the similarities with Emer Bog in Hampshire. I haven’t taken any photos yet

    7 May 2021 17:28:26 Lost Rainforests of England :

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  2. I’m pretty sure we live in an area of temperate rainforest in the upper Swansea valley but it’s also fairly populated and semi-agricultural, so the council happily give planning permission for new build along the roadsides in areas of woodland. When I’ve commented that they are destroying the habitat they have put conditions on planning permission requested developers leave small wildlife corridors along the sides, but we need to prevent the decimation of the woodland through development altogether!


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