Strapwort (Corrigiola litoralis) is a Critically Endangered plant which, within the UK, is only found at Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve.
Due to its declining numbers, the Wild Planet Trust and Natural England initiated a species recovery programme in 1996. Seed was collected and a population was set up at Paignton Zoo. Propagated plants have now been successfully translocated to additional sites around the Ley resulting in record numbers in 2010 and 2011. Wild Planet Trust staff carried out research at Slapton and at Paignton Zoo to identify the habitat requirements of this rare species in order to maintain a viable population at Slapton Ley. Recent clearance work on the shore of the Ley has allowed record numbers of seedling to appear and we hope to replicate this in other areas where strapwort occurs.
However, there are risks to this population, in particular from potential sea level rise and increased storm activity, and Wild Planet Trust also started to research suitable areas for possible reintroduction elsewhere in the South West.
Loe Pool in Cornwall, which is managed by the National Trust, was identified as the most suitable site as it offered an ideal habitat, and strapwort had grown there in the past (last recorded in the early part of 20th century).
Seeds from Slapton Ley were grown in polytunnels at Paignton Zoo, and following scrub clearance and herbicide treatment by the National Trust, a trial reintroduction took place in 2015. This has been followed with further translocations of plug plants each year in May. It is hoped that the population will be sustained through management after five years of adding plants to the shoreline.
Ongoing research and monitoring will help to direct appropriate management such as grazing at both sites.