Grassland fungi - recording and conservation in England

Grassland fungi - recording and conservation in England

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Sean Cooch and Clare Blencowe offer their perspectives on efforts to record and protect grassland fungi.

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Grassland fungi - recording and conservation in England

Summary:

Waxcap grasslands in England: a new assessment of the distribution and conservation Status – Sean Cooch.

‘Waxcap grasslands’ is now a well-established term for grasslands with a rich mycota that supports a range of species within five groups. Such habitat is threatened globally and it is highly likely that many significant waxcap grasslands have disappeared in the last 50 or more years. In 2004, the first assessment of the grassland fungi resource in England was published by English Nature and the amount of recording of grassland fungi has increased significantly since. By bringing together the last 18 years of records from multiple sources, we aim to provide a new grassland fungi gazetteer and a publicly available site layer of the most important sites in England to inform nature conservation priorities.

Local approaches to mapping mycologically-rich grasslands: integrating volunteer recording effort and conservation in Sussex – Clare Blencowe.

Sussex has a relatively long history of biological recording and the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre (SxBRC ) holds records of grassland fungi dating back to the early 1970s. In this talk, Clare will reflect on how knowledge of grassland fungi sites has built locally, over the years, and showcase current approaches to support volunteer recording – including an online ‘Grassland Waxcap Identification Support Tool’ and a ‘Provisional Atlas of Sussex Waxcaps’. Clare will also talk about how this evidence-base enabled to SxBRC to undertake detailed mapping of ‘mycologically-rich grasslands’ in Sussex, through a pilot project commissioned by Natural England, and discuss potential local applications for this kind of information – to support conservation of these rare and threatened habitats.

About our speakers

Sean Cooch has worked at Natural England and its predecessor body English Nature since 2001 and is currently Senior Grasslands Specialist covering England, working on projects such as a new grassland inventory and a standalone revised grassland fungi inventory. Other key work areas include SSSI notifications, development of guidance for new land management schemes and trying to improve the regulatory framework to protect priority habitats. In the autumn, Sean will often be found scouring grassland sites mainly in Dorset. Originally coming from a forestry background, Sean’s first proper post-graduate job was an ecologist with the Forestry Commission in the New Forest “where I’m proud to say I made the Forest wetter”.

Clare Blencowe is an amateur mycologist whose work occasionally overlaps with her hobby. In 2015, she took on the role of Manager at the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, working closely with the volunteer biological recording community to provide ecological data and information services to a wide range of ‘data users’ including local planning authorities, conservation organisations and ecological consultants. Clare has become an active member of Sussex Fungus Group and has developed a particular interest in identification, recording and conservation of grassland fungi. Clare joined the British Mycological Society’s Field Mycology & Conservation Committee in 2021.

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