Nature Champions: Wilson’s filmy fern


One of only two species of filmy fern native to the UK, Wilson’s filmy fern is a classic and characteristic species of Scotland’s temperate rainforests of the west coast. These beautiful ferns are named for their translucent leaves which are only one cell thick. It grows in very humid woodland on rocks and old walls.


With thanks to Calum McLennan for the images.

Action Needed

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



  • 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.
  • Its two key threats are the invasion of Rhododendron ponticum, which alters the habitat to such an extent that this fern, and the associated bryophytes and lichens, cannot survive; and small-scale hydroelectric dams which reduce humidity in west coast ravines.

MSP Nature Champion

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