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The Conservation of Juniper. I. Present Status of Juniper in Southern England

Lena K. Ward
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 10, No. 1 (Apr., 1973), pp. 165-188
DOI: 10.2307/2404724
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2404724
Page Count: 41
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The Conservation of Juniper. I. Present Status of Juniper in Southern England
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Abstract

The general ecology and detailed distribution of the present day populations of Juniperus communis communis in southern England have been described. Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire are numerically the most important counties for juniper. In Gloucestershire, Surrey and Kent the species is in a critical state of decline. Everywhere there are indications of fragmentation of habitat and localization of the plant into centres. Historical evidence about the past distribution is shown to be rather inadequate both in time and topographical cover to permit comparison to the present distribution. Nevertheless definite decreases in juniper sites can be demonstrated for all counties except Wiltshire, Hampshire and Sussex. A decrease in these three counties is likely but cannot be substantiated because more 'new' sites have been found than records of extinct sites. Aspects of the age-structure of colonies have been considered, especially the tendency for many colonies to be even-aged. The occurrence of seedlings is not thought to be particularly low in proportion to the other age groups at the present time. The causes of the decreases are complex, but are attributed mainly to changes in land use. Estimates of the numbers of bushes are used to show where the remaining juniper occurs today. It is found that the influence of the nature conservation movement reaches more than a third of the remaining bushes which are on nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest. Overall the most important remaining areas are on the Ministry of Defence ranges. High numbers are also found on areas with steep slopes, such as old trackways, earthworks and quarries; these have an intrinsic conservation value because natural regeneration is quite frequent and the likelihood of destruction is less. These sites often have a conservation status also. Fewer bushes are found on National Trust land and commonland, while about one-sixth of the total have no protection. Possible causes of future decreases are discussed, and the main danger seen as a reduction in natural regeneration at the same time as existing colonies of juniper are lost due to factors of succession and ageing, although they are on conserved areas.

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