Lack of public engagement & understanding of neglected species which are pivotal for many ecosystems; fungi (incl. lichen), algae, seaweeds & moss

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Underfoot is a long-term community engagement, outreach and outdoor educational program designed to inspire and inform the people of Cardiff about nature’s most overlooked, misunderstood gang of misfits... the incredible world of fungi, mosses, lichen and algae. We’ve all seen the headlines about iconic, exotic, and often cuddly species like the panda or giraffe, but what about the vital species in our ecosystem working in the background, who don’t get the recognition or protection they deserve? For instance, almost everything you have eaten today contains or has relied on fungi, with 90% of global plant species dependent on mycorrhizal fungi. Half the oxygen in your lungs has been photosynthesis by algae, while the carbon captured by sphagnum moss is critical in our fight against climate change. Each month, Underfoot will hold events, workshops, and activities to engage people of all ages with the incredible role these misfits have in our ecosystems and our lives, and practical ways we can encourage their protection and conservation. From guided forage walks in Bute Park, photography or poetry competitions, workshops on how to dye clothes using lichens or how to grow gourmet mushrooms from coffee grounds waste or even old books, to public lectures and a community picnic in the park, with food made from or reliant on fungi, including chocolate, cheese and beer. This is a collaborative project aiming to connect researchers, schools, charities, cafes and local people together in the shared vision of promoting and learning about these species. Monthly events will attract a growing social community to ensure the project goes beyond a one-off event, enabling long lasting and far reaching engagement with what’s under our feet.