Nature Champions: Tree lungwort

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One of our largest lichens, Tree lungwort grows in Scotland’s best temperate rainforests. Because of its resemblance to lungs, medieval monks used it to treat lung complaints. It is an indicator of clean air. Although abundant in the rainforests of Scotland’s west coast, it is extremely rare elsewhere in the world.

Action Needed

  • Ensure Scotland’s rainforest is prioritised in the upcoming Biodiversity Strategy for Scotland 
  • Ensure the Scottish Government takes decisive action to reduce impacts from high deer numbers, and commits to the eradication of rhododendron ponticum 
  • Ensure the Scottish Government commits to a Rainforest Action Fund for the long-term ecological restoration of the rainforest 

Threats

  • Almost all of the rainforest shows little or no regeneration due to high levels of overgrazing, mainly by deer. This poses a risk to the long-term survival of the habitat, because as trees mature they are not replaced, and the age variety is almost non-existent in the rainforest. 
  • The other big threat is Rhododendron ponticum, which chokes up at least half of the rainforest. Rhododendron, an invasive non-native species, can colonise the rainforest, shading out lichens and bryophytes, and other characteristic flora, and it can outcompete native trees.  

The rainforest also faces threats from diseases like ash dieback; as well as nitrogen pollution, infrastructure development and climate change.

MSP Nature Champion

Katy Clark

Member for: West Scotland

Party: Scottish Labour Party

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