Australasian Fungi Red List Workshop: Conserving our overlooked but ecologically imperative fungi

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"You can't have the tree without the fungi”. When it comes to conservation, it’s often the cuter and cuddlier species that get most of the attention, despite them being just the tip of the iceberg for rare and threatened flora and fauna. What about the hidden kingdom of Fungi?

Organisation/s: Victorian Government, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Media Release

From: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Dr Tom May is passionate about conserving the hidden kingdom of fungi.

When it comes to conservation, it’s often the cuter and cuddlier species that get most of the attention, despite them being just the tip of the iceberg for rare and threatened flora and fauna. What about the hidden kingdom of Fungi?

Mycologists (fungal experts) are meeting at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria between July 22nd and July 26th for the Australasian Fungi Red List Workshop to assess the often-overlooked conservation status of fungi from the Australasian region. Workshop participants include representatives from UK, Sweden, Malaysia, USA, and Chile, in addition to Australia and New Zealand, and they will share the latest news regarding fungi conservation from around the world at a public forum on the evening of Tuesday 23rd July.

The first step for fungal conservation is to prioritise the species that require attention. The International Union for Conservation of Nature compiles the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Species proposed for assessment are often rare and experience threats to their survival such as habitat loss and the loss of their symbiotic partners. Already, there are nearly 100 species of fungi included on the IUCN Red List.

“Discovering and monitoring threatened species can be greatly aided by citizen science recording programs such as Fungimap, which have turbo-charged the rate of accumulation of fungi distribution data,” says Dr Tom May from Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. “Fungimap has accumulated more than 100,000 observations, and now that we have many records of common species, we can start to see which species are rare.”

International participants in the workshop bring fresh perspectives on advancing fungal conservation. For New Zealand, Dr Peter Buchanan (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research) points out that “fungi are already included in the lists of species assessed under the New Zealand Threat Classification System.” In Chile, Giuliana Furci coordinates FundaciĆ³n Fungi, whose advocacy led to inclusion of fungi into Chile’s environmental law.

Red listing is the first step. Ultimately, according to Dr Anders Dahlberg from the Swedish Species Information Centre, “inclusion of fungi in Red Lists should lead to practical efforts to ameliorate threats and manage habitats for vegetation and for fungi”.

The Australasian Red List workshop is supported by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Mohamed bin Zayed Conservation Fund, IUCN, and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

Free Public Events:

* Threat Status Assessment of Fungi: a general session of the workshop. Mon. 22 July

* Advancing the Conservation of Fungi: Evening Public Forum. Tues. 23 July

Venue: Mueller Hall, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

For more information and booking inquiries, click here: https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/science/projects/mycology/conservation-of-fungi

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