Getting up close to the wonders of lichens
A fascinating world hiding in plain sight can be explored with a leading expert this month, during a commemorative lichen walk at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on Thursday, August 31. Getting close-up with these enigmatic and often unappreciated inhabitants of trees, rocks and even pavements, participants are promised an entertaining and enlightening excursion in the company of Dr Rebecca Yahr.
Scotland has one of the richest and most important lichen assemblages in Europe and is home to more than 1,500 different species. New species are still being described to science and much more needs to be learned about them in the bid to research, protect and restore Scotland’s lichen diversity – from checking out previously unnoticed populations on the summits of the Cairngorms to monitoring the effects of climate change and restoring habitats for vulnerable Celtic rainforests.
Lichen biodiversity scientist at RBGE and Past President of the British Lichen Society, Dr Yahr explained: “Lichens can be found everywhere from inner city pavements to mountain tops. Yet, while increasing numbers of scientific papers are being published on the subject, this is almost certainly balanced by a lack of people who can recognise them in the field and so can actively work to conserve them. Every little increase in understanding our environment moves towards conserving our natural heritage.
“Our walk is part of a month-long commemoration of the life and work of the late Frank Dobson, author of the main UK lichen field guide and the man who provided a gateway into lichens for so many. His book, Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to British and Irish Species, now in its seventh edition, has been instrumental in teaching lichens to generations of students in Britain and beyond. If we have any ambitions for the day, it is to encourage lichen lovers of all abilities to come together with Dobson and learn a few species in the Garden.”Register online
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