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Juniper utilization : issues of chemistry and management

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  • Biology
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Economics


Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) poses both a challenge and an opportunity for natural resource management in the rangelands of the northern Great Basin. The continued expansion of western juniper on the rangelands of the interior Northwest will likely continue as there are currently no practical options for returning this area to a pre-settlement state. Range managers face declining economic resources from both private and public funds to carry out development goals. Because economic resources are scarce, an efficient method of juniper management is needed to sustain both ecosystem function and economic use. One method of efficient management would be to develop economic incentives for land owners to extract marketable products from juniper woodlands. These products could then pay for, or reduce the cost of, management activities such as juniper removal and native plant restoration. A promising avenue for the development of such products is the extraction of natural oils from juniper trees. Research was executed to isolate and identify a potentially useful natural compound from the heartwood of western juniper. This compound, Hinokiic acid, was previously unobserved in the heartwood oil of western juniper. Now that its presence has been confirmed, ideas for the possible uses of the oil can be explored. By itself, the development of new products from juniper cannot provide all of the tools needed for range managers to more efficiently manage this species. Methods to determine the possible outcomes of management activities on the juniper system would also be valuable. The juniper system is complex and research into its natural functions is ongoing. With published data gathered through previous studies, an organizational and predictive population model was constructed for a hypothetical western juniper population. This is a first effort to model such a plant population and is designed to serve as a basis for future study. Overall, this research provides an example of a framework for combining forest product development with ecosystem management.

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