Gavin Greig (ggreig) wrote,
Gavin Greig

Heart of the Rain Forest

I’ve just returned from setting up Mum’s new broadband connection, having agreed that dial-up is no longer the way.

I got the connection up and running within an hour on Friday (there were some networking issues to sort out, so it wasn’t a completely straightforward five minute job), then spent much of the rest of the weekend bringing software up to date. A four-hour power cut due to high winds actually meant I was a bit pushed for time, but I got all the important stuff done and had no major disasters.

I’ve left new shortcuts on the desktop for Remote Assistance and The Archers “Listen Again”.

The West Coast was doing what it does best – i.e. I got soaked just walking down the pier from the ferry to my sister’s van, as rain was driven horizontally into my clothing. That, and driving past all the trees in the rain, made me think about something that may be a bit surprising for UK residents.

I grew up in the heart of the rain forest.

That’s not just hyperbole because it rains a bit on the west coast and there are trees. No, it’s literally true; the place I grew up in (along with other, mainly western coastal parts of the UK) contains woodland that’s officially recognised as temperate rain forest.

Think of the descriptions of rain forest you may have heard or read; hot, wet, sticky, with lush vegetation, hanging garlands of moss, and incessant biting insects.

Moss and lichen on a tree in May

Let’s drop the “hot”, since we’re not talking about tropical rain forest here, and much of that still applies. On flat ground, the trees are often to be found in standing water or boggy ground that you could splash through. We may not have the dramatic Spanish Moss of the Americas, but we have our own varieties of moss and lichen that make our tree-trunks green or grey rather than the stereotypical brown. We have more moss than grass in our lawns, and you can see it hanging, dripping, down banks too steep for other things to grow. "Lush" is the sound the vegetation makes when you step in it. We have the midgies!

As for the heart bit? Apparently (and I have no way of confirming this, so it might be rubbish) the Cowal Peninsula is the fastest generator of biomass in the UK. I’m told this is in part due to the rate at which Forestry Commission conifers grow in the mild, damp climate; my first thought was – surely it’s the mould? :-)

Just to be clear, the woods I’m thinking of are mostly the remnants of natural deciduous woodland, although I’m sure the forestry plantations also count as part of the rainforest.

Next time you’re passing woods on the west coast of the UK, take a second look at them with the word “rainforest” in mind, and see if you don’t view them just a bit differently.

Moss and lichen on a tree in May

Tags: information technology, mum, natural history, photography, scotland, thought, travel, weather

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