There’s a Rainforest in the Lake District?!

17 June 2024 by Rachel Wilson

There’s a Rainforest in the Lake District?!

When you think of a rainforest, what springs to mind… Tropical places like Indonesia and the Amazon? Well, there is in fact one of the largest remaining pieces of temperate rainforests in northern England located in Borrowdale, the Lake District.

A National Nature Reserve

On 22 May 2024, The National Trust and Natural England officially announced that the Oakwood Borrowdale rainforest is a National Nature Reserve as part of the King’s Series. They have worked extremely hard on a rigorous application project which will help restore this 721 hectare site as well as improving biodiversity and reconnecting the woodlands for wildlife, whilst also preserving the heritage of the landscape.

The Importance of Borrowdale Rainforest

The area of Borrowdale rainforest is a rare and precious habitat. Rainforests require high levels of rainfall (typical Lake District weather!) and humidity to thrive with a temperate climate, not getting too hot or too cold. Instead of palm trees and tropical plants, you’ll find oak and birch trees as well as lush green ferns. Having had little human interference, the Borrowdale rainforest is also an old growth forest with varying levels of tree growth. This means that there is an abundance of biodiversity with large old trees providing rotting wood for fungi and insects to prosper.

Helping Rare Species

The rainforest is rich in mosses, liverworts and lichens which have adapted to live in this very specific habitat which are now rare throughout Europe. It’s vital to remember that losing one species can have devastating effects on the rest of the rainforest. Recognisable and some of our favourite species like the Red Squirrel and Pied Flycatchers use this area as their home and hopefully their numbers will increase due to conservation work in the area.

Working with Local Farmers

Working together with local farmers is crucial in order for the Borrowdale rainforest to survive. Traditional fell farming has been a fixture of the Borrowdale valley, as farmers have herded their Herdwicks and Cattle through fields and across fells for centuries. However, it is vital to get grazing numbers balanced in order to create new woodland pastures, ponds and hedgerows to ensure both cultural and natural heritage can continue generations from now.

To view a map of the areas included in the new National Nature Reserve, click here.

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