It was towards the end of the 19th century that we understood that lichens are not a single organism but actually a symbiotic relationship between an alga and a fungus, two species that are members of completely different Kingdoms. It was another 100 years before it was understood that fungi don’t just exchange nutrients with a single species but actually transfer nutrients between species within a forest, directing nutrients away from strong and healthy plants towards young and sick ones.
The more that has been understood of fungi and the ‘wood wide web’ they create, the more extraordinary the story becomes. Fungi can ‘solve’ labyrinths, they set ‘variable exchange rates’ for exchanges of carbon and phosphorus with different plants, and they can even be ‘taught’ to live on a diet of cigarette butts. This led to easy hyperbolic conclusions that fungi are conscious beings making calculated decisions, but, as explained in the wonderful book ‘Entangled Life’, if we view things from the perspective of the fungus there is a much more obvious explanation. The fungi have a symbiotic relationship within the forest ecosystem, the health of the fungus is completely entangled with the health of the entire forest – therefore it is in the evolutionary interest of the fungus to support the overall health of the forest ecosystem.
The more we study Fungi the more we learn about how they can help us regenerate the planet, but possibly the biggest impact they can have is being a role model for us. Our own wellbeing, like that of the fungi, is completely entangled with the health of the ecosystems in which we live. We need to mimic fungi and use our own unique capacities to rebuild the health of global ecosystems. OnePlanet has been designed to strengthen such connections within and between organisations, allowing them to collaborate effectively and deliver Shared Outcomes. To learn how to increase the resilience and strength of your economic and natural ecosystems through the use of OnePlanet have a quick watch of our introductory video or our product overview webinar.