For the past decade, Plantlife has been trialling conservation techniques to help germination from seed. The excellent news is that it works. Ten trial sites now boast healthy populations of young juniper. At a few sites, plants have already reached waist height and are clothed in berries, proving that regeneration is possible.
We have secured funding for two locations but we can restore many more landscapes with your help. Now is the time to restore juniper to its rightful place in our landscapes. Plantlife is working alongside farmers to create substantial tracts of bare ground (scrapes) to seed with juniper berries, supplemented with 1,500 cuttings-raised juniper bushes.
What is so exciting is that saving juniper is also good news for many well-loved wild flowers: fragrant, bee and pyramidal orchids, autumn gentian, cowslips, purple milk-vetch, horseshoe vetch and fairy flax among the many beneficiaries of works to date.
The developing vegetation on our trial juniper scrapes is of a richer and finer quality than much of the surrounding scrub-covered grasslands; attractive enough for declining butterflies such as the Chalkhill Blue to take up residence.
Over 100 specialist fungi and invertebrates are linked to juniper, which also provides superb feeding and nesting sites for birds such as goldcrests, firecrests and song thrushes.
From folklore to medicine to the joy of a good gin, we share an interwoven history with this versatile little conifer. Imagine a landscape filled with junipers of all shapes and sizes surrounded by a carpet of wild flowers supporting butterflies and birds. It may sound like a dream but it is something we can deliver – it is applied conservation in action.
Images: Juniper ©iStock.