Recently I was lucky enough to be asked to a lichen identification and surveying day at the beautiful Etherow Country Park by Samuel Bolton of the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit.
The aim of the event was to pilot a survey technique developed by Steve Price of the British Lichen Society to evaluate woodlands for lichen biodiversity. While there are suveys available which assess air quality by studing the lichens present, these are not quite right for answering the question of whether a woodland is particularly good hotspot for finding interesting lichens. This event was part of a larger project (run by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and funded by Natural England) which is seeking to develop methods which would produce informative surveys of woodland wildlife that can be conducted by volunteer groups(e.g. Friends of ….) and do not require in depth specialist knowledge.
The day began with a very interesting talk by Steve Price and the opportunity to study some example of lichen species, including some from his personal herbarium. After that, we were set loose in the woods of the park to test out Steve’s new surveying technique. This centered on being able to recognise lichens with different forms of growth e.g. beard lichens, leafy lichens or shrubby lichens and assigning a score for each type based on an estimation of their abundance.
The trees we surveyed had an OK to good diversity of lichens present, but we only had time to survey near the lake and the carpark so I imagine the woodlands in the rest of the park may be even more interesting.