Fungi maintain life on earth - the work of the Fungus Conservation Trust

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:03 12 August 2019

Volunteers with the Fungus Conservation Trust

Volunteers with the Fungus Conservation Trust

Archant

Michael Jordan is a member of the Fungus Conservation Trust and here writes about its aims and need for volunteers

Hericium coralloidesHericium coralloides

When I was a child, mum used to take me out picking field mushrooms - they were 'safe and OK', but the ones growing in the woods were 'very dangerous'.

To an extent, these rather polarised views still exist today, although foraging for fungi of all shapes and sizes has gained popularity, and perversely, through over-picking, fungus foraging is now providing its own threat to their well-being.

At the moment, unlike wild flowers, fungi have no protection in law, and for most people they remain a tantalising mystery.

What are they? Are they dangerous? Why do they appear? What on earth use can they be?

Amanita muscaria var muscariaAmanita muscaria var muscaria

Of one thing we can be certain - without fungi, life on earth would simply cease to exist.

They are vital to the well-being of our planet, and yet today, with a wealth of modern science at our disposal, we have still learned far too little about them.

We don't even know how many kinds there are in the British Isles, although the total is a big one.

We have so far listed more than 17,000 species, ranging from field mushrooms, to huge brackets on trees, those that help us fight infection, and some that even grow between our toes!

Sarcodon scabrosusSarcodon scabrosus

The Fungus Conservation Trust was set up in 1996 with a number of intentions.

The first is to encourage more people to take an interest in fungi, to gain an understanding of why they are a vital part of our countryside, and to start recognising at least some of the commoner ones by name.

The second, and in many ways most important, is the growing need to provide fungi with conservation status.

This demands hard facts and figures, especially about those that are critically endangered, vulnerable or threatened.

Hericium coralloidesHericium coralloides

The Fungus Conservation Trust maintains an essential national database of fungus records.

These records are collected by our local groups around the UK.

The Three Counties Group operates in East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset.

It organises regular forays (outings to find fungi and collect records) throughout the season in our local parks and woodlands.

Amanita pantherinaAmanita pantherina

Forays run for about a couple of hours and can be great fun for young and old.

We love to see children out on forays, and with sharp eyes, closer to the ground, they make some of the best fungus hunters too!

It's a chance to get out and about in some beautiful countryside as well as being educational.

But now we urgently need 'more eyes on the ground'.

The mushroom and toadstool season is upon us.

During the next few months, these extraordinary, slightly alien shapes and colours will be emerging in our woods and fields.

The Fungus Conservation Trust is a registered conservation charity.

You can find lots of details at www.abfg.org and www.3countiesgroup.abfg.org

We urgently need more local support. Our numbers have thinned over the years. We can't maintain this vital recording of fungi without 'eyes on the ground'.

It will also give you details about how to contact us.

Talk to either Michael or Hazel - we would love to see you soon!

Full details, including directions, of the local group's 2019 foray diary, which covers East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset (What's On) can be found at www.3countiesgroup.abfg.org

But in summary:

DateLocationMap referenceTime

Saturday, August 17Wayford WoodST3990642pm

Wednesday, September 4 Charmouth Forest SY354967 2pm

Wednesday, September 11 Castle Neroche ST272156 11am

Sunday, September 15 Dommett Wood NR ST278140 2pm

Saturday, September 21 East Hill Strips, Core Copse SY126949 2pm

Wednesday, September 25 Buckland Wood ST183171 11am

Saturday, September 28 Yeovil CP, Chard Reservoir 10am-noon

Tuesday, October 1 Yeovil, Nine Springs CP ST351140 10.30am

Saturday, October 5 Yeovil, Nine Springs CP ST351140 10am-noon

Wednesday, October 9 Lamberts Castle SY366988 2pm

Saturday, October 12 Yeovil CP, Ham Hill ST337100 10am-noon

Sunday, October 13 Hestercombe Gardens ST241287 10.30am-1pm

Sunday, October 20 Wellington Monument ST137172 11am

Wednesday, October 23 Buckland Wood ST183171 11am

Sunday, October 27 National Trust Montacute ST495167 11am

Saturday, November 9 Mutters Moor SY110875 11am

Sunday, November 17 Lamberts Castle SY366988 11am

To read more features from East Devon Resident, click here.

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