SSE wind farm builders dig in to save rare Highland ‘gin trees’

The not-so-common Juniper tree
The not-so-common Juniper tree

When increasingly rare juniper shrubs were identified within the Highlands construction site for Bhlariadh wind farm near Invermoriston, the on-site environmental team took action to ensure that the juniper shrubs were not lost to the development.

Going beyond both legal and planning compliance, they moved the shrubs safely to suitable new home in nearby Livishie Wood, beyond where construction was taking place.

Bruce Milne, SSE Environmental Engineer, explained: “When the team found the juniper bushes they started work immediately to identify a new home for the plants.

“Juniper is an ecologically important species and this area is a bit of a juniper hot-spot, so we were all really pleased to have been part of the efforts to help to ensure its conservation.”

Juniper, the primary botanical used in gin, is one of only three conifers native to the UK. Over recent decades, the shrub has witnessed a significant decline, and whilst Scotland remains a stronghold for the species the population has reduced by 25% from Scottish sites where it has previously been found.

The coniferous tree is already one of the rarest plants in the UK with only 400 hectares left – mostly in Scotland. Although not (yet) a protected plant, native juniper bushes are under threat from disease, old age and lack of fertilisation.

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