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Charity attempts largest transplant of ancient and rare lichen in efforts to protect its future - The National Trust

lichen held on tree by black mesh
The endangered Lobaria Pumonaria lichen - found in the Lake District. Credit National Trust & Stuart Walker

The National Trust is attempting to save one of England’s rarest ancient lichens by removing it from a fallen veteran oak tree in the Lake District and transferring it to dozens of nearby trees.

The lungwort lichen, Lobaria pulmonaria, a characteristic of the wildwoods that started establishing after the last ice age, has become increasingly rare in England since the 18th century as a result of air pollution and habitat loss.

Although historically prolific, this old growth species of lichen is currently surviving at only a handful of sites in the Lakes where its presence has traditionally been an indicator of a healthy woodland.

The process, known as translocation, involves carefully removing it from the host tree, before reattaching to new trees by a range of means including wire mesh to hold it in place, staples or even glue. Without doing this, the lichen would die.

The transfer is the largest ever attempt made by the National Trust in partnership with the British Lichen Society, Cumbria Lichen & Bryophyte Group and Plantlife, almost three square metres was removed and transplanted on dozens of different trees across Borrowdale, resulting in over 100 translocations.

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