In 2020, Guy Shrubsole moved from London to Devon. As he began to explore the wooded valleys, rivers and tors of Dartmoor, he discovered an extraordinary habitat that he had never come across before: temperate rainforest. Entranced, he would spend the coming months exploring and researching the history and distribution of rainforest in the British Isles. Britain, Guy discovered, was once a rainforest nation.
This is the story of a unique habitat that has become so denuded and fragmented, most people today don't realise it exists. Britain's rainforests have been lost from both the landscape and from cultural memory, yet fragments of them remain and continue to permeate our culture in forgotten ways. Featuring trespassing botanists, Welsh wizards, lichen geeks, Sherlock Holmes, Romantic poets and Celtic druids, The Lost Rainforests of Britain takes the reader from the Atlantic hazelwoods and oakwoods of the Western Highlands, down through the Lake District, parts of the Peak District, Wales and into Devon and Cornwall, and shows how they might be restored to the places they once were.
A beautifully spun detective story, The Lost Rainforests of Britain is an unforgettable chronicle of our land – its past, present and future – as we have never before encountered it.
Guy Shrubsole was formerly a campaigner and an investigator for Friends of the Earth. As a writer, he has written widely for publications including the Guardian and New Statesman. His previous book, Who Owns England?, was an instant Sunday Times bestseller.
–Winner of the 2023 James Cropper Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation
– The Sunday Times Science Book of the Year
– Shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Society Literary Prize
"[...] Shrubsole is a skilful champion for his central thesis, that Britain has its own rainforests, every bit as important as tropical ones. He believes that the high rainfall areas of the west of Britain, which comprise a fifth of the landmass, should naturally be rainforest, and we should do what we can to restore temperate rainforest wherever possible. [...] Like Feral, Lost Rainforests is in part a manifesto. I hope that it will stimulate debate and broaden the cause of nature. [...] Shrubsole has written a stimulating book, and shown himself to be a powerful advocate for nature. Time will tell how far he gets with his stated ambition ‘to find Britain’s lost rainforests and bring them back’."
– James Robertson, British Wildlife 34(7), June 2023
"Remarkable [...] Shrubsole has completely changed the way many people look at the temperate woodlands that remain in parts of western Britain"
– Financial Times
"If anyone was born to save Britain's rainforests, it was Guy Shrubsole"
– Sunday Times
"Fascinating, lyrical [...] A celebration of these dazzling worlds and a plea to act before they are extinguished"
– The Times
"[The Lost Rainforests of Britain] could be a lament but instead it is suffused with the irrepressible positivity and cheerful enthusiasm of a born campaigner"
– Patrick Barkham, Guardian
"Enchanting and insightful [...] Wonderfully evocative"
"Excellent [...] Inspiring"
"A treasure chest full of woodland jewels, rare, precious and beautiful"
– Chris Packham
"Utterly enchanting, transporting and spellbinding, The Lost Rainforests of Britain will change our understanding of Britain and the hidden treasures we live amongst. A rallying cry for restoring the rainforests of Britain urgently, and an inspiring and informative must-read for anyone interested in rewilding and ecological restoration"
– Lucy Jones, author of Losing Eden
"Passionate, powerful, political and practicable, Guy Shrubsole gives us a blueprint for how to bring our missing rainforests back to life in all their riotous, tangled glory. Impeccably researched, convincingly argued and with generous measures of joyful discovery, this really is a spectacular book"
– Lee Schofield, author of Wild Fell
"A magnificent and crucial book that opens our eyes to untold wonders"
– George Monbiot
"A beautiful, lyrical and urgent book [...] I cannot recommend it enough"
– Nick Hayes, author of the Sunday Times-bestselling The Book of Trespass
"In The Lost Rainforests of Britain, Guy Shrubsole deftly lays out the reasons why we need to care for these ancient wildernesses [...] You might think we shouldn't need this book. But we do, and I'm extremely glad it exists"
– Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan and Albert & the Whale
"A book rich in vivid wordsmithery that unravels, in stunning technicolour, a magnificent treasure on our doorstep which, unbeknownst to many, is as draped in folklore as it is in ferns. Guy Shrubsole might just be as much a national treasure as those boggy forests he's become the preeminent biographer of"
– Sam Lee, Mercury Prize-nominated musician and author of The Nightingale