Biodiversity Action Plan

A Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) has been prepared for the 15ha planted ancient woodland site (PAWS) at Coed Talylan for the preservation and restoration of fungi diversity and its host habitat. The reserve will be called the Refungium.

The action plan will help safeguard the biodiversity of the Refungium now and for future generations and it is hoped that implementing the plan will contribute to the achievement of local and national targets for UK fungi BAP priority species and habitats, while also providing educational and recreational services. The following is an overview of the full BAP that can be downloaded here. It is an evolving document that will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Overview

Ancient woodland is land that has been continually wooded since at least 1600AD. Some ancient woodland may even be a link back to the original “wildwood” from the post-glacial age 10,000 years ago. Studies show that these woodlands are typically more ecologically diverse and of higher nature conservation value than those that have developed recently or where woodland cover on the site has been intermittent. Ancient Semi Natural Woodland such as within the Refungium, are reservoirs of native genetic diversity that show local adaptations to specific sites and are invaluable as benchmarks for soil studies, indicators for environmental change and highly valued as places of historical, cultural and economic resources.

However, fungi distribution and diversity is still poorly researched and understood due to fungi for long was being largely overlooked in ecology research, that the fungi’s main body (the mycelium) remains hidden and may have disrupted fruiting and dormancy periods. However, restoring/preserving habitats that are well known hosts for ectomycorrhizal (EMF) and saprophytic fungi will likely encourage these fungi to get established. Although there may also be scope for particular species-targeted management, restoring native woodland will in many cases contribute to the expansion of habitat for priority species. Especially connecting corridors with established habitat and creating more deadwood has shown to improve recolonization of young woodland.

The bioregional restoration management aims and objectives for the Refungium have been adopted from the Fungi Conservation Forum’s publication “Saving the forgotten Kingdom”

  • Understanding and documenting fungal diversity
  • Conserving fungal diversity
  • Using fungal diversity sustainably
  • Promoting education and awareness about fungal diversity
  • Building capacity for the conservation of fungal diversity

 

Objectives and Targets

Objective 1: Understanding and documenting fungal diversity

 

Target 1 – Fungus distribution data to be accessible and regularly updated

Target 2 – Red list data endangered species

Target 3 – Targeted research into fungal diversity and taxonomy to be undertaken

 

Objective 2: Conserving and Enhancing regional fungal diversity

 

Target 4 – Appropriately targeted ecological research to be undertaken to identify the ecological requirements of fungi and the land management practices that provide these conditions

Target 5 – Important areas for fungal diversity to be conserved and managed appropriately

Target 6 – Conservation and restoration actions to be initiated for priority species and groups

Target 7 – Threats posed by naturalised non-native fungus species to be assessed and action taken to communicate and manage risk

Target 8 – Species status monitoring methods to be developed

 

Objective 3: Using fungal diversity sustainably

 

Target 9 – Encourage sustainable harvesting

Target 10 – Encourage good practice and the sustainable collection of specimens to further scientific understanding

 

Objective 4: Promoting education and awareness about fungal diversity

 

Target 11 – Greater awareness of fungus conservation and the contribution of fungi to our well-being and social, environmental and economic viability

Target 12 – Develop education and awareness raising initiatives by the various fungus groups, statutory organisations, charities and voluntary societies

 

Objective 5: Building capacity for the conservation of fungal diversity

 

Target 16 – Creation of a Bioregional centre of excellence to support fungus conservation

Target 17 – Contribute to communication between conservation and field recording communities

Target 18 – Professional training and development of mycological expertise to be developed to ensure that there is sufficient capacity for the future

 

The objectives and target are met on the foundation of practical woodland management actions including:

  • Encourage part restoration of Protected Ancient Woodland Scheme (PAWS)  areas through thinning of Sitka Spruce.
  • Where dominant, the spruce suppress flora and tree regeneration and should be thinned to encourage more diversity of flora, as micro fungi on plants should not be ignored (Fungi Conservation Forum, 2015). If the denser spruce is managed as a crop for the remainder of this rotation (approx. 25-30 years) then thinning should aim to maintain sufficient light on the woodland floor for a more diverse flora to re-establish and thrive. Some tree regeneration may also occur but it is likely that felling of small group of spruce would be needed in order for young broadleaves to establish. Important early work should include the thinning or removal of spruce at edges where these are competing with or suppress large oaks or other native vegetation.
  • The areas that contain the oldest broadleaves may be appropriate to leave relatively undisturbed as a natural reserve. Management could, however, include removal of some competing broadleaf trees around the largest oaks along the Nant Celynog and elsewhere.
  • Open ground at the edges of streams and tracks is valuable and should vary in width from over 10m to just a few metres, including places where trees meet overhead to provide shade and corridors for wildlife.

Refungium implementation steps

 

Securing the site

The Refungium is currently secured by the ALT through a single investor who wants to see the Refungium as well as the wider Coed Talylan to be used for conservation as well as for One Planet Developments for a few households. The plan is to release a separate share-offer together with a solid BAP to raise the money for the Refungium in order to secure it under multiple investors entrusting it to the Coed Talylan Land Trust which will be the legal entity behind the Refungium.

 

Establish collaboration

Working with BBNP, Carmarthenshire Fungi Group, National Botanical Gardens of Wales and the local community to raise the Refungium’s profile and make it an educational resource for local schools and research institutions. Here too a public consultation will be organised to invite local participation. Collaborate with BBNP to create public right of ways as part of the Beacons Way path system.

 

Funding must be secured for small maintenance works. Potential paid roles for management and liaison with neighbours if funding can be secured may also be desirable. The practical conservation required is assessed to be modest per weekly hours however the scheme may benefit from a coordinator/manager role for especially the initial stages and to ensure that the projects targets are met over time. Grant schemes to ensure that boundary fencing is maintained. Initial fungi survey and Soil DNA testing will be desirable for ongoing monitoring of the woodland fungi diversity and will require funding and management or/and involvement and coordination of research institutions.

 

Conservation Grant schemes for the thinning of conifers and replanting with native broadleaves as well as encouraging natural regeneration and scattering of deadwood. Much of this can also be done with volunteers.

 

Local participation Establish a friends group e.g. local fungal group and local community members to help set up footpaths and signage, plus information leaflet box/info box.

 

 

Securing the Refungium land

As part of the Coed Talylan Land Trust we are launching a share-offer (coming soon!) for the 15 ha site so that we can guarantee its status as a Refungium in perpetuity.

In lieu of the current deforestation and fragmentation of habitats, securing the Refungium may prevent it from falling into the hands of logging operations in the future as well as preserving already restored ancient woodland. Besides being a reservoir for fungi diversity which participate or/and control many ecosystem functions, the woodland is also a sanctuary for many mammals and bird species and it helps retain water in times of increasing flooding events as well as buffering nutrient runoff from the agricultural fields above. The recreational and scientific value of the Refungium will be invaluable in the larger picture of world-wide conservation to help halt climate change and its extreme effects on the biosphere.

Conservationists and investors who are excited to see this project succeed are hereby invited to participate. Do share the word!

 

Involvement

Get in touch if you are interested in being involved with the Refungium. We are looking for volunteers and fungi enthusiasts for all the different aspects of the project.