Political support for Lost Rainforests

The Lost Rainforests of Britain campaign is calling on the UK Government to restore Britain’s lost temperate rainforests by implementing a ‘Great British Rainforests Strategy’. Our key asks as part of this strategy are:

  1. A high-level commitment to restoration
    • The Prime Minister declares he wants to ‘bring back Britain’s lost rainforests’ to galvanise landowner interest and support.
  2. Funding
    • A dedicated pot is created within the Nature for Climate Fund for temperate rainforest restoration, so that work can begin during this parliament.
    • The threshold for funding of natural regeneration under the England Woodland Creation Offer is raised from the current limit of 75 metres from a seed source to 150 metres, based on the latest science.
    • Ministers announce that at least one of the 15 Landscape Recovery pilot projects (due to run 2022-24) will be centred on temperate rainforest restoration, and a group of landowners and land managers successfully bid for such funding to run a rainforest restoration project.
    • Clarification about how much of the £30 million Big Nature Impact Fund will be allocated to protecting and restoring Britain’s temperate rainforests.
    • Ensure that the three tiers of ELMs genuinely deliver ‘public money for public goods’, with rainforest restoration as an example of this, and guarding against backsliding (e.g. a replication of the old CAP subsidy system that has helped drive environmental degradation for decades) – adding to wider ongoing lobbying efforts by others in the conservation and environment sector.
  3. Protection
    • Natural England is given direction to designate and protect all remaining temperate rainforest fragments as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
    • Ministers task relevant local authorities with including temperate rainforest protection and restoration in forthcoming Local Nature Recovery Strategies, and relevant national park authorities with including them in forthcoming Management Plans.
    • Owners of temperate rainforests are encouraged to protect their sites from overgrazing by livestock and deer by installing exclosure fences around their perimeter, plus a margin of at least 150m to allow for natural regeneration, whilst maintaining public access rights through stiles or gates.  
    • Natural England and the Forestry Commission are tasked to draw up a new plan to tackle rhododendron, an invasive species and one of the key threats to existing temperate rainforests. This should consider whether there ought to be more obligations on private landowners to remove rhododendron, and/ or more public funding to help them.

We are pleased to have seen the Government recognise the campaign and the importance of protecting and restoring our temperate rainforests, as shown below. We continue to campaign for the Government to implement a ‘Great British Rainforests Strategy’ to ensure this protection and restoration for years to come.

  • Environment Secretary of State George Eustice speaking at the Conservative Environment Network ‘Conserving our Natural Inheritance’ event. Ben Goldsmith asked what extent we can emphasise the existence of temperate rainforest and ramp up existence of rainforest and if this was on the Government agenda. Secretary of State said this is being looked at by Lord Goldsmith and that both of them are passionate about ‘repairing woodland’ and temperate rainforests is something they are looking at. Watch the clip here (starts 1 hour 11 minutes).
  • In November 2021, Defra published a document outlining its aims for the forthcoming Big Nature Impact Fund, including to “support and expand England’s temperate rainforests.” This is the first time the UK Government has signalled its intent to protect and restore our temperate rainforests. In a Telegraph article covering the announcement, a Defra spokesperson stated: “Temperate rainforests are globally important and highly biodiverse habitats. Defra is committed to expanding and protecting them”. We are still pushing for further detail on the fund.
  • This is why Anthony Mangnall MP (Conservative: Totnes) asked Defra “To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to protect and restore Britain’s temperate rainforests.” Minister Rebecca Pow’s answer can be found here.
  • He also asked Defra “How much of his Department’s £30 million Big Nature Impact Fund will be allocated to protecting and restoring Britain’s temperate rainforests.” Minister Rebecca Pow’s answer can be found here.
  • The Conservative Environment Network’s latest essay collection includes an essay on ‘Expanding our woodlands‘ that includes two of our key asks of Government: 1) ensure that rainforest projects are also eligible to participate in the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes from 2024, and one of the 10 Landscape Recovery pilot projects could be focused on rainforest restoration to generate national excitement about the return of these globally important habitats to Britain. 2) Natural England must expedite the establishment of an official habitat classification for temperate rainforests and designate all remaining fragments Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

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