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Database for UK Fungi of Conservation Importance - COMPLETED 2011

Developing a database for those involved with fungal conservation

The inclusion of 27 non-lichenised fungi in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) marked a turning point in fungal conservation. The fungal kingdom was launched on to the work programmes of the country agencies and other organisations at a time when the tools, data, organisation and communication of fieldworkers were all showing improvements. The timing was auspicious and heralded a greater emphasis on gathering, storing and using fungal data and a greater awareness of fungi in general. Initial concerns about which species were included have given way to better partnerships and coordination of the work required to conserve fungi.

Above all, BAP has stimulated recorders, researchers and those using databases and publicity to help to improve our understanding of the UK's diverse and ecologically important mycota. However, it has also illuminated the limitations on our ability to deliver which, given the impending increase in BAP fungi species, we need to address.

The recent BAP review has a draft list of some 80 species which will lead to additional work. A fungi conservation database needs to be set up which will enable conservationists working in partnership to: undertake the implementation of the increased number of plans; provide better evidence for identifying fungi priorities; and bring about a more widely based surveillance and monitoring programme.

The newly recommended BAP targets and species have brought about a new dimension of hectad-based, and therefore quantified, recording and monitoring. Under the current regime, this places an additional and unsustainable burden on both the voluntary capacity of key organisations, principally the British Mycological Society and Association of British Fungus Groups, and the limited staffing of research institutes, NGOs and the Country Agencies. Pivotal to the successful introduction and achievement of quantified BAP targets, therefore, is the establishment of a database for fungi of conservation importance. This will provide data essential to drawing up a prioritised programme. It will involve working on a subset of the Fungus Records Database of the British Isles (FRDBI), to "clean up" existing data, add to the records and to set up a monitoring programme which can be based on firm management and investigation of databased records, sites and material.

The database will be developed at Kew in conjunction with English Nature and their fungi BAP contractor. It is important that those involved with fungi conservation develop and use one database. In the longer term it is vital that the FRDBI is the "one-stop shop" but it needs an overhaul, protocols developed and duplication of records removed and cleaned up.

PROJECT UPDATE: The funded part of this project has been completed, the database supplied, and the revised and additional data incorporated into the FRDBI online.

Project partners and collaborators

Natural England
British Mycological Society
CAB International
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Project funders

Natural England

Project Department