Wednesday 3 March, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, Zijing C

Keynote reflection:
Kevin Hyde (MFU, Thailand): Mushroom for mountain futures

Wild edible fungi have been collected and consumed by people for thousands of years. The archaeological record reveals edible species associated with people living 13 000 years ago in Chile, but it is in China where the eating of wild fungi is first reliably noted, several hundred years before the birth of Christ. China features prominently in the early and later historical record of wild edible fungi. Mushrooms have for centuries been valued not only for nutrition and taste, but also for their healing properties.

The importance of wild edible fungi continues to grow for more fundamental reasons. Logging bans in several countries have renewed interest in non-timber forest products as an alternative source of income for rural households.

The values and traditions associated with the harvesting and use of wild mushrooms are as strong today as they were centuries ago and are confirmed by the huge range of wild fungi collected from forests and fields around the world. However, it is here in Yunnan that we find the highest diversity of mushrooms, with more than 800 edible species to be collected. In addition to the collection of wild mushrooms, China is the leading exporter of cultivated mushrooms.

However, fungi are also crucial to the function and productivity of every terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. They play a role as decomposers, pathogens, and symbionts, providing nutrition to most land plants, and contribute towards the health and production of most agricultural systems.

Thus it is clear that wild edible fungi play a critical role in not only the nutrition and income of people associated with them, but they also provide a key ecological function to the ecosystems in which they occur.

Panellists:

  • Steve Axford and Catherine Marciniak (Australian photographer): Visual presentation
  • Peter Mortimer (ICRAF): Overview of the mushroom project
  • Tim McLellan (ICRAF): Matsutake management in Yunnan
  • Heng Gui (MFU, Thailand): Plant-fungi feedback systems
  • Samantha C. Karunarathna (MFU, Thailand): Mushrooms in fallow forests
  • Asanka Ranjana Bandara (MFU, Thailand): Cultivation of medicinal mushrooms

Chair: Kevin Hyde

Rapporteur: Tim McLellan