The World-Saving Work of the Fungi Foundation

We’ve all seen that what began as a film quickly grew into a community and a global movement. Fantastic Fungi is not only a home for all things mycelial, and a place to dive deep and connect with nature’s intelligence. It’s also a place to connect with others who are as passionate about fungi as we are.

When you watched the Fantastic Fungi documentary, you would have met Giuliana Furci, founder and CEO of the Fungi Foundation. For over a decade, Furci and her colleagues have been working to “enable the world to understand the opportunities and wonders of Fungi.” They facilitate the exploration, discovery, documentation, conservation and preservation of “the world’s most important kingdom, fungi.”

Today, we’re shining a spotlight on the important work they are doing to help not only fungi and the mycelial network – but the entire planet and all who call it home. Standing on the precipice of climate change, we face the biggest decision of our lives, and we all depend on the work of Furci and her colleagues.

Working for the World’s Most Important Kingdom

The Fungi Foundation and its contributors work for the fungi, their habitats and the people who depend on them. They allow all people to explore and learn the value of the connections and wonders of mushrooms.

The Fungi Foundation is the world’s first non-governmental organization that works entirely for the protection and promotion of fungi. This diverse global team is connected by a passion for fungi. Their work explores fungi in all forms, to increase knowledge of its diversity, promote innovative solutions to global problems and educate about its existence and responsible applications. They also work with global leaders to recommend public policy that helps conserve the fungi kingdom. They want to push the boundaries of mycology, with initiatives to create a healthier planet. Ultimately, they envision a world where fungi “are recognized as the interconnectors and recyclers of nature.”

Their work officially began in 2012. Since then, the Fungi Foundation has been working toward the conservation and inclusion of fungi in all areas of the public sphere: politics, citizen science, schools and language.

It all started in Chile, with the legal recognition and protection of fungi. To date, Chile remains the first and only country to include fungi in their legislation. The Foundation’s work directly led to 45 species of fungi and lichens being listed in the latest Chilean Species Assessment Process, in 2019.

From then on, the Fungi Foundation has offered citizens access to mycological knowledge. This happens through the publication of field guides, and, most recently, with the establishment of a scientific collection standard. This new standard means that people interested in fungi can properly collect their own specimens and information, and correctly collect samples to later be included in a fungarium or used for research.

The Foundation’s projects include:

Expeditions | Only 5-10% of Earth’s fungal diversity is known, and the Foundation wants to discover and inventory the diversity of the last wild places on the planet.

Conservation | Though humans rely on fungi for survival, they are not acknowledged as relevant organisms in the spaces where life-altering policies and decisions are made. The Foundation is working to change that.

Elders | Fungi and other organisms (humans included) have ancient, important relationships. To both preserve and conserve people and planet, the Foundation wants these “ancestral relationships” to be made known and respected.

Artistic Research | Like Louie, the Foundation works at the intersection of art and science. They collaborate across disciplines, working with not only scientists and policy makers but creators and artists.

Education | Last but not least is their work to educate every human about fungi.

The foundation has launched an educational program for kids, providing free learning resources for teachers to inspire children to learn and explore all of the wonders of fungi. They have also worked in collaboration with museums, universities, artists, scientists and documentalists. Through their field expeditions, they have discovered and recorded the fungal diversity of 17 countries.

They say: “We believe that children should learn as much about fungi as they do about plants and animals. Fungi are the digestive tracts of our forests, regenerating nutrients from decomposition, and keeping the cycle of life alive. Fungi are the hidden treasures in nature connecting us with the invisible and intelligent universe below our feet.”

Along with Reconsider, Fantastic Fungi has partnered with the Fungi Foundation to create a free mycological curriculum. By delving into the Fantastic Fungi program, students learn that the kingdom of fungi – and all the mushrooms, molds and yeasts that are neither plant nor animal – are critical to human survival and to the survival of our planet.

FungiEducation.org provides access to this free mycological curriculum, and it also provides additional resources to learn and stay informed about the new fungal research and findings, various online learning activities, as well as help to become a citizen scientist. The goal for us – and the Fungi Foundation – is to inspire and educate children and adults all over the globe. We want everyone to know about the importance and applications that fungi have in our world, and inspire some young mycologists along the way.

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