Closed petition Protect and restore Britain’s lost rainforests

The UK Government should protect and restore Britain’s lost temperate rainforests by producing a ‘Great British Rainforests Strategy’. This must set out policies to better protect our remaining rainforests, and funds for farmers & landowners to restore them.

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Few people realise that Britain is home to temperate rainforest, a globally rare and important habitat. The rainforests are astonishingly beautiful, and they are wildlife- and carbon-rich habitats, home to many rare and unique species of lichens, mosses, fungi, birds, insects and mammals. Despite their significance, Britain’s rainforests only remain in fragmented pockets, but there is considerable potential for the Government to support the expansion of the habitat across Britain.

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 August 2022

The Government recognises the importance of temperate rainforests and will continue working to protect and restore these vital habitats.

Temperate rainforests are significant habitats for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, alongside providing many other ecosystem services. The international importance of temperate rainforests (also termed Atlantic woodland) in supporting rare and threatened species has been recognised in domestic biodiversity policy for many decades. Many temperate rainforests are protected by existing policy. Many are ancient woodlands, which are protected from development in all but wholly exceptional circumstances. We have also committed in the England Trees Action Plan (ETAP) to increase protections in the planning system for long established woodland in situ since 1893. Many of our temperate rainforests support rich assemblages of species and are protected in our series of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

This Government has made a world-leading commitment to halt the decline in nature by 2030, which will rely on the restoration and creation of habitats across the country. This will be supported by funding from the Nature for Climate Fund, future farming schemes including Landscape Recovery, and new funds such as the Big Nature Impact Fund. We will consider, while designing and rolling out these schemes, how they might support the protection and restoration of certain types of woodlands, including ‘temperate rainforests’. We also provide financial support to the buffering and expansion of valuable woodlands, such as temperate rainforests, through the England Woodland Creation Offer, and funding for the improvement and restoration of temperate rainforest sites through the Regional Restoration Funds.

We are currently working on the revision of the 25 Year Environment Plan, the next Environmental Improvement Plan, due in January 2023. This is the overarching strategy for the environment, as set out in the Environment Act. It will integrate and continue our ETAP commitment to protect and expand resilient treescapes, including our precious temperate rainforests, in a way that is cohesive with wider environmental policy.

Forestry policy is devolved, so the protection and restoration of temperate rainforests outside England is a matter for the devolved authorities.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs