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Mushrooms & Lichens Lag But UK Makes Progress on GSPC

11 May 2006
 Syzygites megalocarpus © Malcolm Storey/

 The humble but essential fungi, like this pinmould,
are being overlooked
Image © Malcolm Storey/ 

At a meeting in Kew Gardens recently the UK reviewed it's progress towards the targets of the GSPC which are meant to be met by 2010, which is less than four years away.

The results, presented by members of the plant conservation and education communities of Great Britain, show good progress in some areas, particularly in higher plant taxonomy and public awareness, but very slow in others. Particularly neglected are the preliminary assessments for lichens and fungi, and the translation of knowledge into conservation action. For example,  conservation assessments of most of the UK's biodiversity has been done but only one species (the Lady's Slipper Orchid)  has been successfully propagated and restored to the wild.

Mushrooms and lichens are key components in global ecosystems but lack the glamour and appeal of animals or rare plants like the Lady's Slipper Orchid. This means less funding is made available for research into these vital species and without good research, good conservation programmes cannot be developed. It is this pattern that is slowing progress in these areas.

 Mushroom © Susan Thomas

Tests have shown fungi can be highly effective
at cleaning up toxic waste. More
Image © Susan Thomas

It is essential that the profile of these underrepresented groups is improved and efforts made to bring them into line with higher plant research.

Attention was also drawn to the UK's responsiblities towards other nations, particularly regarding enforcement of trade controls on unsustainably-produced goods (such as illegally logged timber) and in sharing data on species with European and global organisations to create international conservation strategies - as plants do not necessarily respect national boundaries!

There is an ongoing need to work hard towards meeting the targets, and it will be important to draw in more support and involvement from all sectors who can contribute.

If you have an update on your country's progress towards the GSPC to report, please contact BGCI using the feedback form.

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