Species Recovery Projects
A flavour of some of the work we are up to:
Saving Starved Wood-sedge (Carex depauperata)
Indisputably one of the rarest plants in the country, this sedge is now confined to two native sites.
A third site has been created in recent years (near a wood from which it vanished in the 1950s) using plants grown by Kew Gardens, and this is being closely monitored to discover if the plants have formed a breeding population.
In the meantime we have been hard at work at both of its native sites (in Surrey and Somerset), as this short film shows.
The Spiked Rampion project is now in its fifth year, with the outlook looking much more hopeful for this spectacular plant of woodland glades. A new find in 2011 means the species is now known in nine locations in Sussex. The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place has successfully propagated an ex situ population, and from this we will be ‘bulking up’ two of the wild populations where numbers have dropped to critical levels. Five of the sites have had woodland management carried out to increase light levels, and four of these have recorded a moderate increase in population levels. There is still a lot of work to be done to get this species off the danger list, but we are feeling very happy the work is moving in the right direction! We are hugely grateful to the D’Oyley Carte Foundation for funding the 2013-2014 work programmes.
In 2014-15, with funding from Natural England, we have been working to re-establish semi-wild populations of Darnel and Upright Goosefoot. These plants were relatively widespread in Roman and Medieval times, but are now virutally extinct across Europe. The project aims to establish populations of these plants at historic demonstration sites across the UK.
In the summer of 2013 we carried out a population census at two of the three remaining sites in Southern England for this species. This has revealed a mixed picture, with one site faring well but the other down to a critically low population size of one. Most disappointingly, we were unable to collect seeds, which has thwarted plans to bulk the plants up in captivity for future reintroductions – but we are keeping our fingers crossed that enough plants appear next year for us to attempt this again. In the meantime, we are working with landowners to ensure that the land is managed in a way that should increase plant numbers and to clear encroaching scrub where necessary to provide a more suitable habitat for the species. We are extremely grateful to the Clark Bradbury Charitable Trust for providing funding for our 2013-2014 project for this species..
Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle
We are currently applying for funding to commission a survey for this beetle at Eridge Rocks in Sussex, where we believe it is making a final stand against extinction. There is a critical window here to carry out targeted management for the beetle, but we need to know exactly where the insects are and at what density.
In 2013 we commissioned a survey of all the sites for this species in the South and Southwest of England. We are awaiting the full results of this census, but initial finding seem to point at three sites where the population is fairly robust, but two sites where is has now declined to critical levels, and we intend to carry out management for these over the next winter.
In 2013 we commissioned a survey of 15 sites in the Thames Basin to monitor the success or otherwise of targeted conservation work carried out for the species over the last three years. We are awaiting the full results of this, but an exciting initial find has been a new population of a highly endangered type of fern called Pillwort, which has appeared on an area managed for the recovery of Marsh Clubmoss. In the meantime we have been working in partnership with Surrey Wildlife Trust to manage their populations of this rare plant.
We are currently applying to funding to carry out conservation managing at 8 of the sites where this species is currently on the brink of extinction.
Wartbiter Bush Cricket
Working in collaboration with Buglife, we carried out surveys for this species in the summer of 2013. The results from these surveys will give us a clearer idea of the current status of the species and any threats to its future survival at its five remaining sites. The surveys will also identify areas in need of habitat restoration where we can focus our future work.