In 1992, Norway adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity worked out at the UNCED-conference in Rio, Brazil, and is therefore obliged to conserve biodiversity. In order to achieve this, there is a need for the creation of national, as well as local, strategies and initiatives. At the local level, municipalities have to incorporate consideration for biodiversity into all their actions. But this requires knowledge about the biodiversity occuring in each municipality - knowledge that, at present, still is scarce, at least when it comes to fungi!
With approximately 1-1.5 million species, fungi are the worlds second largest group of organisms (after the insects). In Norway there presumably exist approx. 10000 species of fungi (excl. lichens), of which only ca. 7200 species (J.O. Aarnæs, pers. com.) are known to science. Of these, ca. 3400 are macromycete species - by comparison, there are "only" approx. 2000 higher plant species distributed in Norway. Many large fungal groups are insufficiently examined in Norway, and even amongst the best known macromycetes there are families and genera that never have been studied. The distribution of most macromycetes is correspondingly badly known. The high number of species on the Norwegian Red list of threatened fungi (1) reflects this low level of knowledge: 754 species of macromycetes are listed here, which corresponds to 22% of all known macromycete species! Fungal diversity and the significance fungi have in different ecosystems (e.g. as decomposers and mycorrhizal symbionts with higher plants) stands in contrast to our lack of knowledge about them!
The main aim of this mapping project is to document the species diversity of macromycetes in Norway. Facts about diversity are a necessary foundation needed to be taken into consideration if a species is threatened by, or vulnerable to, human activity, and to map changes in the mycoflora over time. Information about occurrence, distribution and ecology of macromycetes will be a basis for further scientific hypothesises dealing with species environmental needs, ecophysiological features, indicator value etc., as well as for hypothesises within the discipline of fungal geography.
The mapping of macromycetes is now being carried out in many European countries: Sweden, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, and France - to mention a few. These mapping projects are mostly run by volunteer organisations, or by public authorities in co-operation with such organisations. The Norwegian mapping project will be part of a common European mapping program, in which Norway with its northernmost geographic position in Europe plays an important role in terms of fungal geography.
Until 1995, Norway had no organised mapping program for macromycetes, in contrast to existing mapping projects for higher plants and lichens, birds and insects. However, in observing that more and more habitats are threatened by human activity, all the while knowing that many fungal species are specific to these site types, the need for a macromycete mapping project is evident.
Facts about macromycete distribution and habitats are needed in many different areas, e.g.:
These data will be of great value when local authorities work out their plans on how to conserve biodiversity, when new conservation plans are worked out and when key biotopes are to be conserved.
2) Main aims
The main aims of this project are
3) Organisation and time schedule
It is more difficult to map fungi than plants, for the reason that most are visible only some few weeks each year, and due to the fact that in a good mushroom year one can find many species in contradiction to bad years with only few species. The thallus (the mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus) is hidden in the soil or in some other substrate, and usually only the fruitbodies are observed and recorded. The mapping project has therefore to rely on observations of fruitbodies. Macromycete fruitbody production is mainly controlled by external factors that are poorly understood. Several years can pass between the times a "rare" species produces fruitbodies and, thus, can be observed. Furthermore, there are "bad mushroom years" (e.g. with little precipitation), when even the more "common" species fail to produce fruitbodies. Due to these circumstances, mapping of macromycetes has to be a long-term project. The present, initial mapping project should therefore be maintained for a period of at least ten years, and should thereafter be continued to include the whole mycoflora of Norway. In addition, it is required that many field workers contribute to cover the whole country during the short season.
It is thus quite obvious that a macromycete mapping project has to build on the co-operation between scientific institutions and voluntary organisations. Each region has its own local amateur experts, who readily contribute to the project due to interest and idealism. At the same time, there are immense quantities of specimens and data stored at the university herbaria. The present, country-wide mapping project is for these reasons organised as a co-operation between the Museums of Natural History in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø on the one hand, and the the Norwegian Mycological and Ethno-Botanical Society with their local associations and members on the other hand. In addition, the project has also established a co-operation with the authors of the Norwegian Red list of threatened fungi (1); the project Siste Sjanse ("Last Chance") (2), which maps indicator species of "virgin" forests in the south-eastern parts of Norway; and the group Kulturøkologene ("Culture Ecologists") that works for the conserving of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. Both groups are associated with the local division of Friends of the Earth Norway in Oslo and Akershus (NOA).
To meet these premises, the project is organized as follows:
Since its start in 1995 until 1997, the mapping project has mainly been financed by the Directorate for Nature Management (Direktoratet for Naturforvaltning). Financial support has also been given by the Environmental Departments of the County Governor in Østfold (1996 + 1997), Oppland (1997), Vestfold (1998), Aust-Agder (1996 + 1998), Vest-Agder (1997) and Nord-Trøndelag (1996, 1997 + 1998), as well as from the Norwegian Association of Forest Owners (Norges Skogeierforbund) (1997) and Akershus county (1998). Locally, the project has been supported by the following communities (1995-1999): Flesberg, Hamar, Hole, Kongsberg, Løten, Modum, Nedre Eiker, Nore & Uvdal, Rakkestad, Ringsaker, Rollag, Stange, Øvre Eiker and Ål. Digitalization of data has partly been financed through public employment programs.
In 1998 and 1999, the applications of the project towards the Directorate have been rejected. This means that the mapping project now is left without any money. Nevertheless, the mapping of fungi in Norway will continue - but naturally with a lowered level of activity.
(1) Bendiksen, E., Brandrud, T.E., Høiland, K. & Jordal, J.B. 1998: "Truete og sårbare sopparter i Norge; en kommentert rødliste." Red list of threatened fungi in Norway. (Abstract in English). Fungiflora, Oslo.
(2) Bredesen, B., Røsok, Ø., Aanderaa, R., Gaarder, G., Økland, R. & Haugan, R.: "Vurdering av indikatorarter for kontinuitet, granskog i Øst-Norge." (Abstract in English). NOA-rapport 1994-1. ISBN 82-90895-03-8.
(2) Lindblad, I.: "Skogområder i Øst-Norge registrert av Siste sjanse." (Abstract in English). NOA-Rapport 1996-1. ISBN 82-90895-04-6.
Last update: 22.03.2005