A single location
Strapwort is a critically endangered plant nationally. In the UK, it is found in just one location: our own Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. We’ve been working for more than a quarter of a century to help increase the numbers of this plant and re-establish it in places where it once thrived.
A species recovery programme
Back in 2006, we started working with the Field Studies Council to halt the decline of strapwort. Seed was collected and propagated at Paignton Zoo, before being translocated to additional sites around Slapton Ley.
In addition, research was carried out to identify the habitat requirements of this rare species in order to maintain a viable population at Slapton Ley. This led to clearance work around the shore of the Ley, which has allowed record numbers of seedlings to appear in certain years.
The risk from climate change
While our work to increase the amount of strapwort at Slapton Ley has been successful, we have identified a number of risks to this population, particularly from climate-related threats such as increased storm activity and rises in sea level. Therefore, we also started to research suitable areas for possible reintroduction elsewhere in the South West.
Establishing a new population
After extensive research, we decided that Loe Pool in Cornwall, a site managed by the National Trust, would be an ideal site to start a new strapwort population. Loe Pool is the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall, separated from the sea by a shingle bank known as Loe Bar.
Strapwort used to be abundant around Loe Pool in the 1800s and was recorded in the area as recently as the early 20th Century. In addition, Loe Pool has gone through several changes in recent years, including improved water quality and better flood prevention, making it a suitable site.
Since 2015, we’ve planted around 4,000 individual plants at Loe Pool, but with such a specialist annual plant it will be many years before we can say that the species is established there.