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 WWCT 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.
WWCT 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. However, there are risks to this population, in particular from potential sea level rise and increased storm activity, and the WWCT 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, the site was ready for planting by May 2015. A team of staff and volunteers planted over 1400 plants!
There was steady growth throughout the summer, until a very wet August saw water levels rise, flooding the site. Further research suggested that mid-shore areas were the most suitable, and more planting took place in May 2016. Research and monitoring work will continue into the future.