|Fistulina hepatica. Image Alison Pouliot|
The Landcare website states 'Landcare is a grassroots movement that harnesses individuals and groups to protect, restore and sustainably manage Australia’s natural environment and its productivity...The keystones of Landcare are that it is community owned and driven, it is bi-partisan in nature, it encourages integrated management of environmental assets with productive farmland and a more sustainable approach to private land management'. Landcare is a great success story. However, despite the enormous efforts of Landcare to restore ecosystems, something is conspicuously missing from concepts of biodiversity. Fungi. A foray back through the history of Landcare reveals that fungi have been almost totally overlooked in efforts to understand ecosystem function and in the restoration of landscapes. That is, until now. It seems that things are gradually changing and fungi are slowly creeping into the Landcare paradigm.
This autumn, over 200 Landcarers participated in a series of fungal ecology workshops and forays across Victoria and NSW. Participants were keen to understand the role of fungi in maintaining soils and their relationships with plants. In particular, they were interested in understanding the ways in which they could actively incorporate fungi into their land restoration projects. Landcare members were especially interested in the Aboriginal use of the beefsteak fungus (see Fistulina hepatica above).
|Cordyceps robertsii. Image Alison Pouliot|
Following a well-attended fungus field day at Lankey's Creek last autumn, Kylie Durant from Holbrook Landcare organised two further fungal ecology workshops this autumn at Tumbarumba and Mullengandra, NSW. Participants viewed and handled various fungus specimens and learnt the basics of identifying fungi in the field. Participants were especially interested in various Cordyceps species including Cordyceps gunni, C. robertsii and C. hawkseii.
|Despite the dry conditions at Mullengandra, Landcare members|
keenly spotted various wood-decay fungi. Image Kylie Durant.
|Identifying Suillus granulatus in the Wagga Wagga Botanical Gardens. |
Image Kimberley Beattie
|Favolaschia calocera - Orange Ping-pong Bats|
This exotic species was recorded for the first time
in the Otways. Image Alison Pouliot
The dryness didn't deter forayers attending a workshop run by Murrumbidgee Landcare at Bowning, NSW. Landcarer, Kathryn McGuirk said 'I often see white fungi branches when I hand dig a hole when planting a new tree - when I see this in the future I know that I am putting my new tree in a good growing environment'. Leslie Instone commented, 'I was particularly fascinated by the way fungus makes complex relations with trees, algae as well as humans and other animals, and the many beautiful and interesting forms it takes. The emphasis on the importance of fungi for biodiversity made me think about the hidden worlds just below the surface, and the importance of small things.'
Murrumbidgee Landcarers who participated in a foray in the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens were excited to discover several specimens of Aseroe rubra growing among the woodchips. The Gardens presented a variety of native and exotic fungi including the introduced species Suillus granulatus and Leccinum scabrum. Sue Chittick-Dalton from the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists said 'The workshop opened up a brand new world in my life. Being a bird watcher, my eyes have always been ‘upwards’, but the amazing new world will necessitate a change of head-axis. I had no idea of the network beneath our feet and the symbiotic nature of the plant...'.
For the seventh consecutive year Southern Otways Landcare ran a foray and survey, organised by coordinator Libby Riches. Despite having to wrangle two weddings, which descended on our field site at Paradise (but whose guests quickly got shy of the torrential rain) over 40 species were recorded including a first record for the introduced species, Favolaschia calocera. Other Fungimap target species recorded included Cortinarius persplendidus, Cortinarius austrovenetus, Ascorcoryne sarcoides, Plectania campylospora, Cordyceps gunnii, C. hawkesii, Pseudohydnum gelatinosum, Tremella mesenterica group, T. fuciformis, Macrotyphula juncea, Stereum ostrea, Mycoacia subceracea, Hericium coralloides, Podoserpula pusio, Omphalotus nidiformis, Mycena interrupta, M. nargan and Marasmius elegans.
|Cortinarius austrovenetus. Image Alison Pouliot|
|Cortinarius persplendidus. Image Alison Pouliot|