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Wild Things - New Channel 4 Series

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 21:51

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.


Is Usnea articulata expanding it's range in South Wales?

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 18:20

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.



Chalara Dieback - The Importance of Ash Trees to Lichens

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 09:06

Mature ash (Fraxinea excelsior) treeThe 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).

MORE INFORMATION on Ash Chalara dieback and lichens



New BLS Website launched!

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 19:46

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.


Atlantic Hazel: Scotland’s Special Woodlands

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 19:29

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 or NHBS


Lichens on BBC Radio 4

Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 14:14

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.


New version of the lichen "conservation evaluation" published

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 - 14:05


The long-awaited revision of "A Conservation Evaluation of British Lichens and Lichenicolous Fungi" by Ray Woods and Brian Coppins is now available. The First Edition, published in 2003, has become an essential reference for anyone concerned with the conservation of lichens in Britain. This new edition incorporates a number of species discovered in Britain since the First Edition, and takes into account improved knowledge of the status of many other species (sometimes necessitating a revision to their threat category). It also updates the naming of taxa where necessary, to bring this in line with current taxonomic thinking, and attempts a more thorough coverage of lichenicolous fungi. Another tour de force from Brian and Ray!

The "Conservation Assessment"  forms part of the JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) Species Status Assessment series and can be downloaed as a PDF file from the JNCC website.  A small number of printed copies will also be available.


Version 6 of the general recording spreadsheet released.

Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 10:18

Janet Simkin, BLS Database manager, has released a new version (6.0) of the General Recording spreadsheet. You can download it from the Recording and Mapping Downloads page.



Carrying knives - revised BLS guidance

Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 14:18

The law in the UK on carrying knives has been tightened in recent years and the police have increased their vigilance in response to recent well-publicized instances of serious crime involving these weapons.The  BLS has issued revised guidance on this issue to provide clarification to members concerned  over the possible illegality of carrying knives to collect samples in the field.