CENNAD Lichen Apprenticeship Scheme Update

January 25 2017 - 17:49

The CENNAD Lichen Apprenticeship Scheme is now in its tenth month and the apprentices have been busy!

The most recent event, the third CENNAD training day, took place in December at Ynys-hir RSPB reserve. 15 apprentices and 3 mentors and supported by 2 volunteers came along and to listen to presentations, take part in discussions and a join a guided walk around the reserve - nicely rounded off by of with mince pies and mulled wine by the wood stove courtesy of the RSPB.

Over the winter, each local CENNAD group has been asked to create a basic lichen identification guide for beginners including illustrations or photos of key features of epiphytic lichens. The aim is that people new to lichens can use the guide alongside a field key to identify species in the field. Each local group brought their guide to the training day for feedback and the apprentices voted on which they thought was the best. The guide produced by North West Group was the winner and will soon be available on the Lichen of Wales website as the first CENNAD resource to be created by the apprentices.

Above: CENNAD apprentices in Ynyshir Reserve car park examining Arthonia vinosa

CENNAD is benefitting from significant support from its partners, including free access to reserves, use of facilities and equipment, including Aberystwyth University providing use of portable dissecting microscopes at training sessions. An Aberystwyth University student has recently joined Plantlife Cymru on work placement assisting CENNAD and other Plantlife Cymru projects.

As CENNAD apprentices are gaining confidence, it’s great to see individuals willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. Apprentices are offering an introductory walk to lichens as part of the Vale of Glamorgan walking festival in South Wales; and in North Wales providing an introductory talk and walk for volunteers at Treborth Botanical Gardens (Bangor University), a CENNAD partner. 

In November, two CENNAD Groups were provided with interesting opportunities to expand their learning. The South West Group, with Pembrokeshire Fungi Recording Network, joined lichen expert Paul Cannon and the KEW Lost & Found Project team at Stackpole NNR and Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire. They had a fruitful search with some great finds including the nationally rare Heterodermia leucomela.

Above: Heterodermia leucomela, Conservation Status: EN (Endangered) Nationally Rare Section 7 species – Wales (Environment Bill 2016)

The North West Group were invited to join Allan Pentecost (Author of Lichen Flora of Gwynedd) for a day looking at lichens around Victoria Falls, Llanberis in Snowdonia. The apprentices really appreciated hearing about his recording experiences, and about the range of lichen specie found in old oceanic woodlands. 

Above: CENNAD NW Apprentices Group and Allan Pentecost lichen fossicking in Snowdonia

Field training visits for each recording group are currently taking place with support of local mentors, providing continuity and learning between formal training sessions. A herbarium has been created containing specimens that the apprentices have identified, verified by mentors, and is circulating between the local groups to share and extend new found knowledge. With training days planned for March and May this year, the apprentices are looking forward to building on their skills throughout 2017. 

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