BBC Countryfile Magazine
THE LOST RAINFORESTS OF BRITAIN
Packed with historical facts, legendary tales and myths, The Lost Rainforests of Britain highlights the loss of our woodlands over past centuries.
The plight of Britain’s ancient forests is familiar to many, and the destruction of tropical rainforest is well documented, but the woodlands that make up the rare temperate rainforests of Britain are less well known, if at all. These magical places, our ‘home grown’ rainforests, are brought to life by Shrubsole’s wealth of research. He includes indicator species to look out for, and maps showing the areas most likely to have the ideal conditions for these rainforests to exist – areas classified as having an oceanic climate along the western coast of Britain.
Shrubsole tells tales of Tolkien’s Fangorn Forest, Celtic legends of The Mabinogion, and Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. These are linked to places such as Wistman’s Wood, a remnant of temperate rainforest on the wilds of Dartmoor, luxuriant green with mosses, lichens and ferns covering the boulders, trunks and branches of the stunted oaks.
Many more of our rainforests have been lost. Shrubsole speaks of these as Ghost Woods – forests that disappeared long ago, but which can be sometimes traced by their place names, such as Birch Tor.
This story of our lost rainforests is a fascinating read and underlines the serious need to protect and hopefully increase these areas of our own amazing rainforests.
Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor is a surviving example of Britain’s temperate rainforests