Protected slow worms and rare plants find new home on East Devon nature reserve

Slow worms found on a development site in East Devon have been rehomed to the Seaton Wetlands nature reserve.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the move of 15 of the protected species to the award-winning nature reserve would play a ‘crucial role’ in its survival.

Also recently relocated to the nature reserve were some of Devon’s rarest plants, the divided sedge (Carex divisa) – currently only found on the banks of the lower River Otter, near Budleigh Salterton.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for coast, countryside and environment, said: “I had to search online to find out what Carex divisa looked like.

“Having read that this plant is so rare, I’m really pleased that our countryside team at East Devon have worked with the Lower Otter project team to re-introduce this rare plant back to Seaton Wetlands and help to ensure the plants survival in East Devon.

“It’s good news for the slow worms too.”

EDDC said some of Devon’s rarest plants were moved to Seaton Wetlands, as work continues on the Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP), near Budleigh.

In Devon, the divided sedge (Carex divisa) is currently found only on the banks of the lower Otter River and is ‘nationally scarce’, said EDDC.

The grass-like plant was moved to Seaton Marshes and will be monitored for the next year.

The last-known recording of the plant growing at another site in Devon was on the Axe estuary almost 90 years ago.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “In Devon, the divided sedge (Carex divisa) is currently found only on the banks of the lower Otter River and is nationally scarce.

“To ensure its survival, a team of volunteers helped to move the yellow-tipped grass-like plant to a new site at Seaton Marshes, one of three chosen sites with similar ecological characteristics.

“Divided sedge had been known to grow nearby on the Axe estuary but was last recorded as present there in 1934.

“The progress of this rare plant will be monitored over the next 12 months.”

She added: “The award-winning nature reserve has recently seen the arrival of protected slow worms from a development site in nearby Colyton.

“With the help of volunteers, 15 of the legless lizards of a variety of ages were captured and moved safely to their new home on the nature reserve.

“As the world’s longest living lizard, being able to provide a safe habitat full of their favourite prey, such as slugs and worms, is vital.”

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