West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

The Wood-Wide Web

Unseen for most of the year, they erupt as if by magic across the woodland floor in a dazzling display of colours and forms through August to November. Their underground rooting network is so fine and dense, there can be 300 miles of fungi mycelium under each footstep. The mushroom fruiting body we are so familiar with is merely the means to spread their spores to the wind.
West Stormont Woodland Group - Fungi

Thanks to pioneering research carried out over the last 30 years by Canadian ecologist, Suzanne Simard, we now know that trees and fungi have a sophisticated and complex social network system, whereby resources and wisdom are shared across vast distances via infinite biological pathways within the fungi mycelium networks. She discovered that fir trees sent carbon to birch when their leaves were bare in winter but the birch would send carbon back to the fir when the fir was shaded in summer, and so on.

Trees were able to recognise their own saplings far in the distance and send them nutrients via the fungi networks.

She discovered that the trees determined what nutrients they needed and how much by sending hormonal and chemical signals via the fungi mycelium. Some even send messages with energy frequency. They literally speak with each other and with the fungi networks to maximise the efficient use of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and so on. This woodland economy is based upon reciprocity – the mutual exchange of resources for the common good. (Maybe we should be taking notes!) The fungi themselves trade nutrients to trees in exchange for carbon. Indeed, so efficient are they at carbon storage, the question must be asked –

Can fungi help to cool the planet?

We know from studies that fungi-rich soils can store over 70% more carbon than fungi-deplete soils. Many of our soils now have between 1-5% of the fungi they had 100 years ago.

When we consider that mycorrhizal fungi help sequester around 5 billion tonnes of carbon annually, wouldn’t it make sense to incorporate this incredible natural solution into our agricultural and forestry systems and, in particular, to facilitate the regeneration of the billions of hectares of man-made deserts and wastelands around the world. Such a paradigm shift in land use would massively increase the restoration of the Earth’s Soil Carbon Sponge. This would significantly increase rates of transpiration from forests and grasslands into the upper atmosphere to help cool the planet via the Earth’s hydrological cycle, which is still responsible for around 95% of the heat dynamics of the planet.

The benefits of fungi for young trees are so profound that some ecologists are calling on the UK governments to adapt the forestry grants systems to ensure nursery-grown tree saplings are inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi before they are planted in the wild. It’s thought that this will significantly increase carbon sequestration rates, save millions of trees from dying from drought, shock, nutrient loss and so on, and save many landowners having to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds from failed planting schemes. Especially those on the nutrient depleted uplands.

West Stormont Woodland Group - Fungi
Image above: Fungi are the Earth’s great recyclers of nutrients

More Fantastic Fungi solutions

  • The Plastic Scourge: A fungus species has been discovered on rubbish dumps in Pakistan and Ecuador that can devour and break down plastic.
  • An alternative to leather: Companies such as Myco Works are showing how a change from animal skins to fungi-based leather is sustainable, cruelty free and with no rainforest destruction required. Their fine mycelium fungi products include clothing and car interiors.
  • Biodegradable packaging: IKEA is one company that is switching to fungi-based packaging which uses less energy and biodegrades within weeks, in sharp contrast to plastic packaging.
  • Water pollution: Renowned fungi expert and author, Paul Stamets, has shown that fungi grown in beds of wood chips could remove virtually all pollutants from livestock-related agricultural run-off.
  • Food Security: Research has shown that pollinating bees that were fed certain species of fungi had greater survival rates against viral and bacterial infections. It has also been estimated that around 95% of plant species host some form of mycorrhizal fungi on their roots. Some soil scientists are now demanding we harness the potential of this symbiotic relationship to boost food production. Instead of which, in our food production system, we are still widely using insecticides and fungicides which kill bees and fungi.
  • Medicinal: Some species of fungi have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties. Today, fungi are being used to good effect in the production of statins, cancer treatments, anti-viral and anti-bacterials amongst many other uses.



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

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Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

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Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

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Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

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