Wales is home to a large number of abandoned lead, copper and zinc mines and many of these are of exceptional importance for their metallophyte lichen flora. This has been recognised by some of the sites being notified as SSSI by the Countryside Council for Wales and by the listing of the metallophyte community under Section 42 ot the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act (2006) as being of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in Wales. In order to promote wider awareness of the importance of these communities and their management needs, Plantlife Cymru have just launched a new illustrated guide. For more details and to download a free copy of the guide visit the Plantlife website at http://www.plantlife.org.uk/about_us/news_press/plants_from_our_industrial_past/
Items welcome: upcoming events, news and images! Send items to Chris Cant
New! OPAL guides to lichens (and mosses) in orchards in the East of England. Congratulations to Mark Powell and the East of England team.
Click link to download http://www.opalexplorenature.org/discover-orchards
One of Wales’ most important sites for lichens of ancient parkland and pasture woodland habitats will be designated a National Nature Reserve on 6th March 2013. Gregynog estate in Montgomeryshire is home to such rarities as Lecanora sublivescens (known worldwide from only the UK and Sweden); the UK endemic Entergrapha sorediata here at it's only site in Wales. The NIEC score here is 26, making it a site of UK national importance for ancient woodland indicator lichens.
More details can be found in the press release issued by the Countryside Council for Wales.
The Field Studies Council (FSC) supported by Natural England and DEFRA have launched a new scheme aimed at creating a new pool of people with expertise in biological identifcation and recording, and encouraging volunteers to adopt particular taxon groups in order to build and share expertise. This scheme is called "Biodiversity Fellows" (or "bio.fell" for short).
Full details of the scheme can be found on the FSC website
Lichenologist Sally Eaton makes her debut as a TV presenter in a new series on Channel 4 called Wild Things, with fellow presenters botanist Trevor Dines and landscape gardener Chris Myers.
Britain’s landscape has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, and this series will be exploring an aspect that has been the subject of much study by botanists and lichenologists over the last 50 years - what grows where and why, and why are both plants and lichens on the move.
The first episode will be broadcast on Monday 21st January, and will introduce viewers to the changing flora of roadside verges in the Midlands, the story of Lecanora conizaeoides, and those strange creatures tardigrades., that live amongst lichens. Later episodes will visit Salisbury Plain, London, Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales, and Merseyside.
Several BLS members have helped with the making of the programme and distribution data has been provided from the BLS database.
A flurry of new locations for Usnea articulata in South Wales suggests this species may be making a spectacular comeback. More details on the Wales Lichens website.
The implications for lichens of the spread of Chalara Dieback of Ash, a disease of ash trees caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, could be very serious. Ash is one of our most common trees, both in woodlands and as isolated trees in fields and hedgerows. The light dappled shade beneath its canopy is ideal for many of the lichens that grow on tree bark and wood. Like elm, the bark of ash has a relatively high pH, a requirement for many lichens. Several of the more ‘demanding’ species that were severely affected by loss of habitat following Dutch Elm Disease found refuge on ash. Now they are further threatened. The mixed ash woods of northern and western Britain are particularly rich lichen habitats, as are wayside trees everywhere, particularly veteran trees that may be many hundreds of years old.
At least 536 species of lichen grow on ash trees, 27.5% of the British lichen flora, together with 31 lichenicolous fungi and 15 of the non-lichenized fungi that are recorded by lichenologists. Of these, 220 are nationally rare or scarce and 84 have a conservation status of critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened.
A very high proportion, 101, also have a status of International Responsibility, meaning that the British population is considered to be of international significance in a European or global context. 50 are priority species listed within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and 6 are given special protection under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
After a year of planning and development, the new BLS website was launched on 30th September 2012. As well as information on the Society and our publications, it also includes many new features, such as:
Events, including an events diary and download.
What is a lichen? an overview of the lichen symbiosis aimed at students and other enquirers.
Habitats and conservation, for professionals in consultancy and conservation.
Lichen communities, including a link to download the Preliminary Conspectus
Taxon Dictionary, including the latest conservation status and synonyms. An introductory video explains how to use it, and there is an explanation of the mysterious world of lichen names and authorities.
Indices of Ecological Continuity, with a new map and a link to download the pdf.
Lichen projects, the Learning Zone for Schools and Universities.
Churchyards, with sections on the churchyard survey and conservation, links to download the poster, leaflet and fact sheet, and an interactive map of the churchyards that have been surveyed.
Lobarion survey, with survey forms and an interactive map showing the records we have of Lobaria species.
Literature, including the Grey Literature and our own Bibliographic database.
Records, with information on how to submit records and links to download recording cards, spreadsheets, and lists of sites and when they were surveyed.
Species accounts, with photographs, descriptions and distribution maps.
This is just the beginning, the website will continue to be developed over the next few years and suggestions and offers of help will always be welcome.
This beautifully illustrated book by Sandy & Brian Coppins was published by the Atlantic Hazel Action Group in March 2012 (ISBN 978-0-9572034-0-2).
The Atlantic hazelwoods of Scotland, parts of western Ireland and possibly a few isolated valleys in Wales, are some of our most ancient woodlands, older by far than the Atlantic oakwoods of Scotland and older than some of the Caledonian pinewoods. This book aims to change the way people think about hazel and in particular the hazel woods along the Atlantic seaboard.
Until recently many ecologists saw hazel as nothing more than an under-storey shrub that needs to be coppiced to survive. In fact hazel can also occur as wind-clipped coastal woodland and as stands amongst other woodland types. The Atlantic hazelwoods can be considered as the “rain forest” of the British Isles, with a unique epiphytic assemblage of lichens, fungi and bryophytes of international importance. They need appropriate management to preserve and enhance the habitat.
Required reading for anyone interested in our woodlands.
Copies can be obtained from AHAG (email email@example.com) or NHBS http://www.nhbs.com/atlantic_hazel_tefno_185883.html.
On Tue 14 August at 09.00 and repeated at 21.30 - BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific features Pat Wolseley discussing her work with lichens, including the OPAL project. Contributions also from Begona Aguirre-Hudson, Peter Crittenden, and girls from La Sainte Union School, Camden.