How fungus can help your woods?
Why are fungus important to woods? Well that is a very good question and having just been on a starter course to learn about Fungus I can give you a few reasons.
At the end of September, the Woodland Trust Volunteers Day for the Northern Region took place at Shipley Country Park where we had our updates from James Jesson, the area site manager and Claire Green our Volunteer Development Officer. Then we moved on to a Fungus lecture by Patrick Harding where we learnt the key features of fungus, identifying marks, different types of fungus. Once we had all of this information swimming around our heads, we decamped to the great outdoors to go and hunt for fungus and give it shot at identifying whatever we found.
Having got all of 4 meters in to the wood we found our first fungus, then all of 2 steps later we found our second and then third. We hardly had to move once we started getting our eyes in, there was fungus everywhere! With the expert help of Patrick and our 2 other identifiers we managed to locate over 26 species and we even managed to identify a few.
Fungus is important to the ecosystem for many reasons, it is a key decomposer within our woodlands, breaking down and using the dead wood and dead leaves, returning key nutrients to the soil. They also allow for the better processing of nutrients by some tree and plant species creating a stronger, faster growing plant. As well as all of this they provide food for plants and animals and humans. A healthy woodland will hold many different types of fungus and so knowing what is growing can give you a good idea about the health of your trees and woodland.
This was an excellent learning opportunity with most of us able to take enough information away with us to start utilising the new skills we had in creating a more extensive ecological map of our areas.
Samantha Roberts – Volunteer