Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The uplands for Juniper project

The Uplands for Juniper Project aims to conserve and restore Cumbrian Juniper populations through targeted survey work and the provision of management plans to land owners and land managers. Juniper and other tree species are being planted by Cumbria Wildlife Trust where populations are in decline or in places where recreated juniper stands will provide stepping stones between existing populations.
A young Juniper plant
This focus on juniper conservation came about after long term declines across the UK in the 20th Century. A decline of 60% up to 1960 was followed by a 31% range contraction in the UK from 1970. These declines lead to Juniper being identified as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species, and the species was later the only vascular plant to be short-listed as a Cumbrian BAP species.

The Wren and SITA funded Project has now surveyed more than 260 stands – a huge effort which was only made possible by the dedication and commitment of more than forty volunteers. Unfortunately, the survey findings don’t make great reading, as the majority of stands are in long term decline due predominantly to sheep browsing but with shading by tall trees and browsing by red deer being important factors in some areas. The mapping of all of these juniper stands will be used for decades to come – resulting in more focused and strategic conservation efforts in the future, which will hopefully counter the decline that the survey has now highlighted. 

Glenamara Park above Ullswater which is owned by the National Trust is one area that was identified as a site for planting, 500 young plants were planted over two years along with 40 Aspen trees.  It will act as a stepping stone for the stands of Juniper to the west on Glenridding common and to the south at Hartsop.

An Aspen tree protected by a tree guard.

 National Trust rangers and volunteers having a well earned break.
The Uplands for Juniper Project will come to an end in 2014, having planted 9000 juniper across the Lake District, and having encouraged more positive conservation work through 40 management plans Juniper in the Lake District will remain a common feature for many years to come.  

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