DARTMOOR’S rare and ancient forests are set to embark on a long road to recovery thanks to £38 million, not from the government, but the private sector.

The Wildlife Trusts are embarking on an ambitious new project to restore British rainforests, thanks to £38 million of funding from the insurance provider Aviva.

It’s part of a wider programme of nature-based projects funded by Aviva to remove carbon from the atmosphere and achieve net zero.

The funding aims to improve biodiversity and climate resilience through the restoration of British temperate rainforests and other wild areas.

Although the allocation of the funds has yet to be announced, a sizeable portion of the conservation money is expected to be heading to Dartmoor, in order to restore some of the best examples of temperate rainforest left in England, such as Fingle Woods, Bovey Woods and Wistman’s Woods.

Temperate rainforests are even rarer than their tropical counterparts.

Although temperate rainforests once covered a fifth of the Britain, all along the west coast, the habitat was largely farmed and grazed out of existence over thousands of years. Temperate rainforests now cover just 1% of the country.

But these vanishingly rare habitats are some of the most biodiverse areas in Europe, and the development and growth of temperate rainforests is fundamental for nature’s recovery, stopping climate change and adapting to its impacts.

This includes achieving net-zero targets, reducing the threat from heat, flood and drought, and protecting at least 30% of land and sea by 2030.

The many millions provided by Aviva will be used to protect and grow temperate rainforests across Britain. Sites such as Fingle Woods and Bovey Woods have been sites of research and conservation for many years now, but new funding would radically ramp up such efforts.

Rob Stoneman, director of landscape recovery at the Wildlife Trust, said: ‘These are very very special habitats, but there’s not much left.

‘However, you can regrow these ancient places if you have time. This is a very long-term project, until 2083. So basically our vision is to clothe the western parts of the country with this rainforest.’

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘We’re looking forward to working with communities to bring back rainforests along the Atlantic coast of the British Isles – these woods are magical and much loved by those who visit and live near them.

‘The task of restoring land to help nature recover and store carbon has never been more urgent. Nature – wild habitats and the species that depend on them – is in fast decline and we’re in a climate crisis.

'These twin emergencies are interlinked and threaten communities, water supplies and the future of farming – which is why we’re so pleased that, with Aviva’s support, we’ll be substantially increasing our efforts to address these crises.'