We have the opportunity during February – March 2014 to influence development of the Australian Ecosystem Science Long-Term Plan. This Plan is being developed by Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, Australian Academy of Science, Ecological Society of Australia, CSIRO, Birds Australia, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Global Change Institute, Soil Science Australia and Geoscience Australia.
The Plan aims to “to ensure we have a cohesive vision and plan for sustaining and developing ecosystem science in Australia”. However, despite much planning and consideration of the future, the ecology currently being proposed for the Plan is biased towards plants and vertebrates. As we know, these two groups combined comprise less than 10% of Australia's biodiversity (Chapman 2009) while the Fungal Kingdom alone is about 9% of our biodiversity. Do we really want our ecological science based on less than 10% of the biota, particularly when this 10% does not include all functional groups of ecosystems?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has recognized that fungal conservation is just as important as animal and plant conservation, and has called on governments worldwide to pay much more attention to fungal conservation. Yet compared with many animals and plants, very little is known about fungi. That knowledge gap needs to be explicitly recognized and plans such as the Australian Ecosystem Science Long-Term Plan should be prepared to deal with that gap. If we are going to have the tools for future conservation and restoration management we need to know the common species of all functional groups within ecosystems at the very least. We also need to understand the linkages in our ecosystems. We have the ecological tools (May & McMullan-Fisher 2012) to look across all phylogentic groups, and now need to develop these to understand the functional links in ecosystems and the different species carrying out these different roles.
We invite you to use the Vision for Australian Fungal Conservation as inspiration and briefing notes to participate actively in your local “Town Hall” meeting for the Ecosystem Science Long-Term Plan (http://www.ecosystemscienceplan.org.au/Events-pg26776.html). If you can’t attend, we encourage you to contact the project coordinator directly to provide them with a link to/copy of the Vision for Australian Fungal Conservation, and to share this information with your networks.