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Ancient rainforest becomes first to receive national nature reserve title: 'Mysterious and untouched'

The program will continue for four more consecutive years.

The program will continue for four more consecutive years.

Photo Credit: iStock

A rare temperate rainforest in the north of England has been declared a National Nature Reserve as part of the King's Series to mark the country's National Nature Reserves Week, according to The Guardian.

The Borrowdale rainforest is one of only a few regions like it in the U.K. that remain a "mysterious and untouched" landscape, per the report. These areas only cover about 1% of the country and have been waning due to rising global temperatures and human deforestation dating back to the 1800s. 

This newly designated National Nature Reserve will aim to conserve and restore a variety of ancient oaks, birches, and ferns while supporting the 1,782-acre area's vast biodiversity. It's just the first of five areas this year to get such special protections, and the program will continue for four more consecutive years.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: "Temperate rainforests are among our most precious landscapes — teeming with wildlife and bursting with rare lichens and mosses, which are found only here." They're also rich carbon stores that help battle Earth's overheating.  

Borrowdale won't be put under lock and key, however. As part of the program, access to the area will be expanded for locals and visitors. Tenant farmers, who have long worked to improve the area, will see new funding that should assist in their conservation work and help support the area's longstanding cultural heritage, according to the U.K. government website. 

Anne Cornthwaite, a tenant farmer at Ashness Farm in the area, said: "At a time when there are really big changes happening within British farming, it is very exciting to see the small changes we made 10 years ago in the way we delivered our environmental stewardship at Ashness Farm, has contributed to Moss Mire being bestowed the most amazing status as temperate rainforest."

Conservation efforts like these benefit everyone involved. They support local wildlife, reduce carbon in the atmosphere, and help protect the land from erosion. When deforestation is left unchecked, as it was notoriously in the Amazon, it could take centuries of effort to reverse, if at all.  

As Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: "This landmark declaration is an important step forward for nature recovery in England. Operating at a landscape scale, reconnecting parcels of the forest and creating corridors for wildlife will make these iconic habitats more resilient to the impacts of climate change." 

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