The race is on for votes to clinch vital European funding to safeguard universally rare rainforest – in Cumbria.
One of the last strongholds in England for ancient Atlantic woodland, the Rusland Valley has exceptional climatic conditions which occur in less than one percent of the planet.
Between now and 9 April backing is urgently sought for the public to get behind the South Lakeland charity intent on fighting for the survival of some of the richest and most treasured habitats in the British Isles.
Chairman of Rusland Horizons, Marion Brown, explained the trust had been shortlisted for a 16,000 euro grant by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) and the deadline for supporting votes was fast looming.
She explained: “This money would mean we could match fund and undertake substantial habitat improvement with our volunteers to protect and regenerate over 50 hectares of native woodland in partnership with local landowners.
“Our veteran trees and exceptional moss and lichen species are under threat from invasive species, disease and climate change. If we lose them, they can’t be recreated. Our aim is to make a local difference in a changing world.
“We do this through local communities and volunteers, who help manage and care for this unique landscape, its habitats and wildlife in a very special part of the world between Coniston Water and Windermere.”
Marion said protecting the Atlantic woodland would help preserve an environment conducive to the reintroduction of some of the important species covered in the Back on Our Map (BOOM) project.
Led by University of Cumbria, BOOM is also a community/volunteer focused initiative, which aims to reintroduce 10 species across South Cumbria thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.
Marion added: “If we are successful in getting the EOCA grant, our work will be secured for years to come. Most people think rainforest is confined to the Amazon Basin and are staggered to find we have this amazing habitat so close to home.
“Our temperate rainforest, as it’s known, used to cover large swathes of Britain’s western coasts. We are now appealing for support to protect what is left.
“However, there is stiff competition for this grant with projects from across the world on the shortlist. There’s a very tight timescale so it’s imperative we get votes in as quickly as possible.
“I urge all those who care for this magical, but seriously vulnerable, place to vote for us on https://bit.ly/VOTEAtlanticRainforest."
(Picture: Rusland Atlantic rainforest by Colin Barr)