THE Scottish Government is set to appoint a “rainforest action co-ordinator” in a bid to restore some of Scotland’s rarest woodland habitats.

The internationally important rainforest, located on the west coast of Scotland, contains some of the world’s rarest lichens but is under threat due to the damaging impact of deer grazing, invasive plants, climate change and diseases such as ash dieback.

As part of Scottish Forestry, the successful candidate will facilitate co-ordinated action with the aim of regenerating the rainforest.

Announcing the position, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “Scotland’s rainforest is incredibly precious and a magical place which is hugely important for biodiversity as well as culture and heritage.

"It is essential that we protect this unique woodland, conserving and expanding it for future generations.

“Much work is already under way in this regard with the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, for example, already working with us to achieve this.

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“This new post signals a further commitment by the Scottish Government to underpin and help co-ordinate all this hard work, ensuring our precious rainforest thrives and contributes to ambitions in the recently published Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.”

The rainforest consists of ancient oak, birch, ash, native pine and hazel woodlands. The high levels of rainfall and relatively mild year-round temperatures gives the woodlands their unique characteristics.

Julie Stoneman of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, welcomed the announcement: “We look forward to working with Scottish Forestry’s new tainforest action co-ordinator to help the Scottish Government meet its commitment to restore and expand Scotland’s rainforest.

“The alliance believes ecological restoration will be most successful if delivered at scale across the west coast and in collaboration with land managers and communities. Co-ordination will be key to delivering results, as will long-term investment.”

The alliance has previously stated that in more than 40% of rainforest sites the level of grazing is so high that it limits their long-term survival.

Around 80% of the grazing impact comes from deer.

The Scottish Government recently awarded £1.3 million to Forestry and Land Scotland to enable them to tackle rhododendron and deer within the rainforest areas that the agency manages.

The new co-ordinator will work across a number of agencies including private landowners, charities and wider stakeholders to develop a co-ordinated plan of action to protect and restore Scotland’s rainforest.

Adverts for the new post will appear shortly.