Junipers to benefit from Forestry Commission Scotland conservation work

Three threatened species are to be given additional support in Scotland's forests in a bid to sustain the country's rich biodiversity.

The juniper and the pearl-bordered fritillary and chequered skipper butterflies will benefit from Forestry Commission Scotland conservation efforts as set out in the three species action notes out this week.

The new action notes complete the set of six that was launched last year with the publication of equivalent programmes for capercaillie, black grouse and red squirrels.

Covering work on the national forest estate and promoting action in private woodlands, the notes set out what the commission will do to support the six priority woodland species identified for special focus in the Scottish Forestry Strategy. All six are also priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Conserving populations of juniper will mainly be through encouraging natural regeneration although in some cases planting will be needed to save small, remnant populations of old bushes where hardly any viable seed is being produced.

Plantlife Scotland conservation manager Dr Deborah Long said: "Juniper is an iconic species for Scotland. One of the first species to arrive here after the last ice age, it has always been an integral part of our landscape and culture. It was used extensively in the past in medicinal cures and to avert evil, while now it is the main flavour in gin. As well as being an important shrub species of our woodlands and heathlands, it supports 42 species of invertebrate and a suite of fungi and lichens.

"Plantlife is working with Forestry Commission Scotland to improve the health of juniper populations across the whole of Scotland and this new action note enables us to work with more partners to ensure that juniper habitats are in better condition."

Forest planning will help to create corridors that will link butterfly colonies.

Grant funding - via Rural Development Contracts under the Scottish Rural Development Programme - is available to owners and managers of private land for work that could benefit these species. See  www.forestry.gov.uk/woodsfornature.

 


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