Gin lovers get tonic as conservation project shares hope dwindling juniper bushes will more than double thanks to replanting
- Conservation project Plantlife hopes to double number of juniper bushes in UK
- Juniper bushes feared to be going extinct due to overgrazing and other changes
- The plant’s range across the country has fallen by nearly 50 per cent
- Now, after injection of public funds, bushes thriving at 14 spots in six counties
Gin lovers have been given a tonic by conservationists who have turned the tide on a worrying decline in Britain’s native juniper bushes.
It was feared the plant, a rare conifer that produces the fragrant berries used to flavour the spirit, was heading towards the brink of extinction after decades of overgrazing and changes to land use.
But conservation project Plantlife hopes the number of juniper bushes will more than double in some southern counties thanks to its replanting efforts.
It was feared the plant, a rare conifer that produces the fragrant berries (pictured above) used to flavour gin, was heading towards the brink of extinction after decades of overgrazing and changes to land use
In recent years, the plant’s range across the country has fallen by nearly 50 per cent, also threatening the survival of more than 100 invertebrate and fungi species supported by it.
Ten years ago, Plantlife set up special nursery sites for wild juniper seeds to germinate.
Now, after a recent injection of government funds, new bushes are thriving at 14 locations in six counties.
Gin lovers will be pleased to hear that Now, after a recent injection of government funds, new bushes are thriving at 14 locations in six counties
Project areas in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire have been selected to repopulate juniper on a larger scale because they feature the southern chalk grassland where shrubs can most easily be re-established and grow in clusters.
Ian Dunn, chief executive of Plantlife, said: ‘Juniper was once a common feature of chalk downlands but is now facing extinction in southern Britain.
There is one juniper bush on the Isle of Wight and just 14 in Dorset.
‘This vital funding offers fresh hope to the beloved purple-berried beauty as it paves the way for Plantlife conservationists to work closely with landowners to expand on tried and tested methods to catalyse regeneration from seed.’