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Fungi and illegal killing of trees is an act of theft

Getting a closer look at this little Golden-scruffy, Cryptotrama asprata. Photos: Andrew Slee, 6.12.23

Up the creek without a paddle
What’s to like about fungi? We’d be up the proverbial – creek without a paddle – without them. Keep an eye peeled for what others often overlook.

ANDREW SLEE finds fungi fascinating. From knowing next to nothing about this secretive life form, Andrew is now a keen ‘looker-er’ when it comes to spotting these often tiny eukaryotic organisms.

“I’ve become familiar with the iNaturalist app that lets me upload an image and make an observation that allows other fungi enthusiasts help identify the particular fruiting body I’ve found,” says Andrew, who spotted the Golden scruffy (Cryptotrama Asprata) while on the Tamarind Nature Walk – the track between Quarry Road and Farm Street, Speers Point.

“Fungi can often be inconspicuous when casually walking along a bush track, so when one catches my eye, I want to get closer and that’s when they get interesting. The detail can be incredible.”

“They’re interconnected with so many levels of the natural world – there’s always more to discover. Especially for someone like me who is just starting out by comparison with people who’ve been studying them for a long time,” said Andrew.

“I’m pleased this is a new ‘discovery’ that will be a great addition to the Munibung Hill picture gallery.”

“By adding observations such as this to iNaturalist and the Fungimap Project we are contributing to the national data bank that is mapping the distribution of these species and helping the future conservation of fungi around Australia.”

“Being so interconnected with everything, my love of fungi has grown into a deeper interest in the greater natural world and I’ve started photographing and documenting insects, birds, trees and more alongside the fungi. There is so much to discover and it’s all right at our doorstep here in beautiful Lake Macquarie”


The illegal killing of trees is an act of theft
‘It’s all about entitlement. Simple’: the rampant acts of tree vandalism on Australia’s foreshores, Paul Daley, The Guardian, 10 December 2023

TREES ARE A PUBLIC ASSET. When they are illegally destroyed in pursuit of better views or property prices, the losses are many and profound.

Daley reports that: Greg Moore, an arboricultural scientist with the University of Melbourne, emphasises how trees are a public asset. The physical, psychological, community, environmental, spiritual and climatic benefit of trees are multiple and profound. Up to 50 other species – birds, reptiles, mammals, fungi and soil microorganisms – also depend on a mature tree.

“People think, ‘Oh I’m only removing one tree.’ But when you do it over and over again and on the scale it’s happening in Sydney, they are having a bigger impact than they realise,” Moore says.

“People think of trees in gardens and streets as essentially being decoration. They don’t think of them as being functional … but the impact of illegal vegetation removal in terms of the urban heat island effect and local temperatures is enormous.”

Socially, therefore, the illegal killing of trees is a contemptuous act of theft from the community; a criminal offence that should be pursued with the legal and law-enforcement vigour of other property and wilful damage crimes.

The novelist and celebrated nature writer James Bradley says the “hatred of trees” is a settler-colonial legacy of the desire to impose order on the natural landscape and a symptom of increased alienation from nature.

MMM Issue 42, February-March 2024