Looking after a rare clean air loving lichen in the Plym Valley

 A couple of my colleagues AJ Bellamy (Lead Ranger South Dartmoor) and Janet Lister (Wildlife and Countryside Consultant) have been looking at a rare lichen in the Plym Valley in North Wood and working out how we can manage the site better to ensure it survives into the future.

The species is one of the lungwort lichens Lobaria virens. Lungworts only survive in the west of Britain where the air quality is very high. Here is some more information on Lobaria virens from the British Lichen Society’s website.

Lobaria 1Lobaria virens is the green fleshy species in this picture (virens is from the Latin viridis = green)

Lobaria 2Here is a picture of the  tree which supports the lichen – it is found nowhere else in North Wood. It is on the bark of an ash tree near a stream which flows into the Plym – it prefers the alkaline bark conditions of ash.

National Trust staff and volunteers will do ‘crown reductions’ of nearby trees to ensure survival of the tree and to encourage ash tree regeneration near by – we may even translocate small samples of the lichen to donor ash trees to increase its chances of survival .

The Lobaria was found by Tony Harwell 15 years ago and Bob Hodgson (in the picture above with Janet Lister) has been keeping an eye on it ever since.

(Both photos by AJ Bellamy)

2 thoughts on “Looking after a rare clean air loving lichen in the Plym Valley

  1. Excellent to see evidence that the air in Devon is often some of the cleanest in the world (I reckon in some wind directions you have to go to the Southern Ocean to get significantly cleaner air). However it’s often possible to smell emissions from the nearby Wrigleys factory up to 5 km away on a cold, stable morning – do we have any sort of inventory of what kind of emissions might escape from their processes and if they are all harmless to vegetation? – I must admit going out to fill my lungs with Dartmoor air and smelling instead peppermint chewing gum adds nothing to their already questionable environmental credentials but maybe the clean-air lichens are not as fussy about that as we humans!

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