Lochaber estates help boost rare alpine flower numbers in Lake District

Mountain avens grow widely elsewhere in the world. NO F30 avens

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Jahama Highland Estates is working in partnership with leading wild land conservation charity John Muir Trust to restore the population of an Arctic alpine flower which has become increasingly rare across Britain’s upland regions.

The mountain avens, an alpine plant with distinctive eight-petal blooms and a yellow centre, is found more widely in the Scottish Highlands but classed as ‘vulnerable’ in England and ‘endangered’ in Wales.

It grows in cold, sunny locations and flowers in early summer. Its cultivation is being supported as part of a broader strategy to protect Britain’s biodiversity.

Working alongside Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England, seeds from the flowers will be collected on estate lands near Fort William, propagated and then planted on the slopes of Helvellyn.

The third highest mountain in England’s Lake District, Helvellyn is currently managed by the John Muir Trust and one of the few places further south where the plant has a marginal foothold, which this project hopes to strengthen further.

Samples of the flower have been located on lime-rich ridges at a height of 850 metres on Beinn Na Socaich, a mountain in the Grey Corries, near Fort William, looked after by Jahama, and which neighbours John Muir Trust-managed land at Ben Nevis.

Mountain avens grow widely elsewhere in the world – they are the national flower of Iceland and the territorial emblem of Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Jahama manages 114,000 acres in the west Highlands that came as part of the purchase of the Lochaber Smelter by parent company, GFG Alliance – a group of assets and businesses owned industrialist Sanjeev Gupta.

The estates are managed under a strategy of combining traditional rural activities with sustainable industrial activities, while engaging closely with local communities.

Jahama’s Chief Operating Officer, Julia Stoddart, said it was a privilege to have such a rich range of plants and wildlife on the estate and that the company took its management responsibilities as ‘stewards of the landscape’ seriously.

Julia Stoddart, Chief Operating Officer of Jahama Highland Estates. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.

‘We’re delighted to help with this project, which we hope will strengthen the precarious populations of mountain avens across the border in England,’ she said.

Pete Barron, from the John Muir Trust, added: ‘Without the support of Jahama and the other partners in this project, the Lakeland population of this relatively rare mountain plant species could not have been augmented and protected. This also illustrates the strength of partnership work in the Nevis area.’