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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Fungi: the Final Frontier

2 October 1996

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has launched a 60 volume series which will finally document the least-known group in Australia's biodiversity - fungi.

Senator Hill says an estimated 250 000 species of fungi, from mushrooms to slime moulds, will be documented in the Fungi of Australia series which will take at least 20 years to complete.

"Fungi are one of the most ancient life forms on Earth and there are probably more species of fungi in Australia than all other organisms combined.

"Less than five per cent of this country's fungi has been located, catalogued, named and studied. This work is in its infancy and we have much to learn.

"This is the final series to commence out of seven expansive series being produced by the Federal Government's Australian Biological Resources Study, to document all of the plants and animals in Australia and where they occur.

"The range of fungi we do know of in Australia is extraordinary and I am sure we will uncover many endemic species with considerable economic and ecological potential.

"The species visible in our everyday lives, such as mushrooms, toadstools, bracket fungi on trees and mould on bread and bathroom ceilings, are a only a fraction of the fungi around us.

"We have everything to learn about the full impact of fungi on other plants, animals and humans, including how particular cultures of fungi can be added to soils to improve productivity in agriculture and how fungi can be used as environmental indicators.

"The information included in this series as it grows will be invaluable for students, botanists, other scientists and farmers, both in Australia and overseas."

The Fungi of Australia series and the two books which comprise Volume 1 have been launched during the First Australasian Mycological Conference, an international event marking the 150th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515
Malcolm Forbes (ABRS Exec Director) 014 637 172 or 06 250 0325

Commonwealth of Australia