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The art of conservation — juniper in the Netherlands

Published: 24/03/2017
Planting common juniper (Juniperus communis) which has become an endangered species in the Netherlands. Photo: Yara van der Velden.

Gin, juniper and the Netherlands are inextricably linked. So it may be a surprise to learn that although common juniper (Juniperus communis) is the most widespread conifer in the world, in the Netherlands it is in need of conservation.

In the Netherlands common juniper typically grows among stands of heather and on (former) sand dunes. Over recent decades these habitats have become fragmented or disappeared. Moreover, rejuvenation in Dutch J. communis populations is rare. As a result, the species has become endangered and can now be found on the Dutch red list.

Yara van der Velden, a Dutch photographer, is using novel approach to draw attention to the disappearance of juniper in the Netherlands. She has made a series of photographs of people working on the preservation of juniper shrubs, the various use of the berries and the genetic diversity of the species. In addition she has made a video installation.

As a last part of this project, she is now collecting juniper berries from as many countries as possible in Europe (and beyond) to be exhibited next to the photographs and videos. So far she has received berries from France, Ireland, Scotland and Iceland. To make the project even more representative, she is searching for people in other countries who are willing to pick 3 or 4 berries and send them to her. In return she will send back a picture of the berries.

Yara would really appreciate help from the forest genetic resources community in Europe. If you can contribute to this refreshing take on conservation of forest genetics, please send some of your local juniper berries to:

Yara van der Velden
Weegbreesingel 4
1121 XX Landsmeer
The Netherlands

But hurry; the show opens on 15 April and so the artist needs them before 8 April.

The project will be on show on the Schiedams Water photo festival in the Netherlands from 15 April – 14 May.

Yara van der Velden’s previous projects can be seen here

Note: The berries will be destroyed after the exhibition and will not be used as genetic material for any other purpose than photography.