Our landscape engagement officer Kay Andrews and Marion Brown from Rusland Horizons Trust, had a fascinating day out with Asby Endowed School learning about Temperate Rainforests and the miniature world of lichens and bryophytes at one of our woods in the Rusland Valley.

Atlantic woodlands are the UK representative of a worldwide ecosystem called Temperate Rainforest. This type of forest is generally characterised by the temperature not being hot nor cold, and high humidity,  which allows for a wonderful array of ‘lower’ plants such as ferns, mosses and liverworts, lichens and also fungi to grow. They occur in the west of the UK, where rainfall is higher, and range from north-west Scotland occurring extensively down the coast through Scotland, the Lake District, Wales and south-west England, and is also widely distributed along the west coast of Ireland. Resp Haw Wood and Bull Coppice which were gifted to Friends of the Lake District in 2017 share characteristics of Atlantic Woodlands.

The day involved introducing the children (and their teachers) to the wonderful world of lichens and bryophytes and their important role in Temperate Rainforest ecosystems. The children’s enthusiasm was infectious and they particularly enjoyed looking at the Lichens and Mosses through hand lenses (pictured below).

One of the favourites had to be Map Lichen, found on one of the dry stone walls of which some of the children were very excited to spot the shapes of the UK and Africa! We also got to look at all the intricate details of Elf Cup Lichen (pictured below).

We discussed the levels of a rainforest and saw signs of the different animals which use the woods from bugs among the leaf litter to woodpecker holes in standing deadwood. We also had a clue as to why there is little understory in the woods at the moment, with red deer antler rubbing scars found on the trees. It was a typical 'RAIN' forest day with full waterproofs and muddy boots meaning quite an impressive operation getting everyone back on the minibus without covering it in mud!     

Thank you to Asby Endowed School for joining us, Marion at the Rusland Horizons Trust for her support and the Lake District National Park for allowing us to use Rusland Tannery for shelter.