About the Society

The International Society for Fungal Conservation [ISFC] was the first society anywhere in the world to be entirely devoted to protecting these beautiful and wonderful organisms. Established in August 2010, it now has more than 300 members in over 60 different countries. The Society promotes conservation of fungi globally through activities, awards, campaigns, meetings and publications. The Society acknowledges with gratitude its debt to the far-sighted pioneers who prepared the way for its formation (see the Background sidebar on the right for a brief history of those events).

To contact the Society. See list of Officers, Elected Councillors, Representatives of External Organizations, and Regional Delegates.

Status. The status of the Society is that of an independent not-for-profit and non party political association of individuals (amateur or professional) and organizations (public or private) with an interest in fungal conservation, including local, national and regional groups and societies.

Objective and activities. The objective of the Society is to promote conservation of fungi globally. The Society carries out activities appropriate for this objective. In the first instance, it acts as a Global Federation for Fungal Conservation Groups, supporting, guiding, co-ordinating and functioning as a forum for regional, national and local bodies seeking to promote fungal conservation. In addition, it works to:
  • identify fungi and important fungus areas in need of conservation;

  • identify current and potential threats faced by such fungi and such important fungus areas;

  • develop and act on strategies and plans to deal with such threats;

  • promote awareness that fungi are different from animals and plants, that they are vitally important components of ecosystems, and that they too need protection;

  • identify and promote awareness of impacts on human society which may occur as a result of fungal population declines and extinctions;

  • establish and foster relations with and between those working towards the same objective, through meetings, electronic media, publications, and by promoting personal contacts, collaboration and the exchange of ideas and information;

  • promote practical methodology to determine the conservation status of fungi;

  • improve the infrastructure for fungal conservation at all levels from global to local;

  • provide information to, and interact with decision makers at all levels (including governments, conservation NGOs, the IUCN, the International Mycological Association [IMA], and other similar bodies and initiatives).

    Governance. The Society has a Constitution, and elected Officers and Councillors (who may be elected, appointed or serve ex officio) [current list]. The Executive of the Society is its Governing Committee, which is composed of the Society's Officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Editor, and Communications Officer), plus two non-office-holding Council Members selected by the Council. The Society's Council comprises the Governing Committee, four elected Councillors, the Chair of each fungal specialist group within the IUCN Species Survival Commission, a representative from the IMA, and Regional Delegates. The Governing Committee and Council are answerable to the General Assembly which meets at every Society Congress (these are normally held at intervals of not more than four years).

    Background. The origins of fungal conservation go back at least fifty years to a time when the decline of lichen-forming fungi was noted and attributed to air pollution. Concerns about these and other fungi affected in this way were, in those days, raised only by isolated individuals: no well-defined group existed to co-ordinate action. In August 1985, at the IX Congress of European Mycologists in Oslo, in response to far-sighted proposals, the European Council for Conservation of Fungi [ECCF] was formed. That council, the world's oldest entity devoted to fungal conservation is now the conservation wing of the European Mycological Association.

    Fungal conservation became an increasingly regular and important theme at subsequent European congresses and, after a British Mycological Society symposium on the subject in 1999, a ground-breaking and highly influential book, Fungal Conservation, Issues and Solutions was published in 2001. In addition, around this time, the first two fungal specialist groups were established in the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN], the Australasian Mycological Society established a regional committee for fungal conservation, the first fungi were added to the IUCN red list, and pioneering work was led by PlantLife to survey important fungus areas in the UK. Another key development was the attempt by the ECCF to add 33 critically endangered European fungi to the list of protected organisms on the Bern Convention, an attempt thwarted by failure on the part of the Convention committee to understand their importance.

    All of this was followed in December 2007 by another key meeting, entitled First World Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wild Fungi, held in Córdoba, Spain. That meeting, which can be regarded as the first international congress on this topic, gave rise to the Declaration of Córdoba, the first agreed statement about fungal conservation at a truly international level.

    From 2007 onwards, development of the fungal conservation movement accelerated, with further symposia on the topic organized in Africa, North America and South America. These in turn led to a decision by the IUCN to increase to five the number of fungal groups in its Species Survival Commission, and that event was followed in October 20009 by the second key meeting, entitled Fungal Conservation: science, infrastructure and politics, held in Whitby, UK. At that meeting, which can be regarded as the second international congress on fungal conservation, the political dimension of fungal conservation was recognized for the first time, and it was agreed to establish a federation of fungal conservation groups. The result of that decision was the present Society.

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