Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On behalf of the Organizing Committee, it is an honour to invite you to the Third International Congress on Fungal Conservation. This is the only meeting explicitly and exclusively devoted to protecting fungi worldwide. That makes it very important. This year's Congress will be the first held outside western Europe. I am most grateful to our Turkish hosts for enabling us to bring the event to a new part of the world.

Fungi are different from animals and plants. They form their own megadiverse biological kingdom and occur in all the world's major ecosystems, where their role is enormous. Plants produce and animals consume, but fungi are the great recyclers. Without them life as we know it could not be sustained on this planet. Fungi, like animals and plants, are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, persecution and pollution. They need protection and, to be effective, that protection should be integral to conservation plans, not just an afterthought. At present, that is rarely the case.

A recent survey we made showed that huge sectors of the conservation movement overlook fungi, often to a shocking level. Most countries are in the Rio Convention. This requires governments to submit reports and plans describing their activities to protect nature. We evaluated documents from over 100 countries. A quarter failed to mention fungi at all. In more than half fungi were not clearly distinguished from plants. The rest were seriously inadequate in treatment of fungi. Every government reviewed failed to provide even the most basic resources needed for protecting fungi.

Our Congress aims to address this very serious problem. Fungi are important, endangered and in need of protection. We must deliver that message to conservationists everywhere. So this invitation is not just to people working with fungi. If you are involved in conservation within a government ministry, or an NGO, botanic garden, natural history museum or zoo, this Congress is for you. If your organization is one of the very few addressing fungal conservation properly, we need your help to spread our important message. If it isn't, this meeting is an unparalleled chance to meet experts and start to put right a serious deficiency in your policies. Either way, you ought to be present.

Fungi are a huge and critically important group of organisms. Their protection should be at the heart of conservation, not its periphery. By participating in this Congress you can help to make the wave of change which will bring this about. I look forward to meeting you at the ice-breaker party.

David Minter
International Society for Fungal Conservation