Join forces for juniper

Juniper Berries

This coniferous plant, for which Scotland is the main UK stronghold, is in a perilous state.

Photograph: Andrew Gagg

It has been hit in the past two years by a deadly fungal disease called Phytophthora austrocedrae, and in some places is also threatened by grazing farm animals and booming populations of rabbits.

Now the environmental charity Plantlife Scotland is urging people to help it carry out a nationwide juniper survey to help determine the seriousness of the problem. The organization particularly wants to hear about any orange or brown bushes, since these may well have been infected.

Deborah Long, of Plantlife Scotland, says: “We are asking people to help us from now until September to complete a survey form every time they see juniper in Scotland.”

To avoid spreading the infection, anyone seeing juniper bushes in this state should keep well away from them and clean their boots – and dogs – on returning home.

Recent research has shown that 40 per cent of juniper sites in Scotland have fewer than 10 plants – and with so few, these sites are particularly vulnerable. Of all juniper plants recorded, 67 per cent were mature. Unless more young plants can be encouraged, the species will struggle to sustain itself.

The survey is being run with funding from Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. Find out how to take part in it on http://bit.ly/junipersurvey

This Saturday, 15 March, has been declared National Juniper Day – and on this day only, No 3 London Dry Gin is giving a complimentary bottle of its tasty tipple to the first 20 people who complete a survey form.



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