Fungi Foundation goes global; Chilean non-profit opens US chapter and incorporates international board members.
After a decade of successfully working on the research, conservation and education of mushrooms and other members of the Fungi Kingdom in Chile, this unique NGO decided to expand its programs globally, opening a chapter in the US (Fungi Foundation, Inc) to facilitate access to funding and collaboration with other relevant stakeholders, and incorporated the renowned mycologist Paul Stamets, actress Nathalie Kelley, and natural winemaker Joanna Foster to its Board of Directors.
Over the last 10 years, the Fungi Foundation-which is the first of its kind dedicated exclusively to the largely unknown fungi kingdom- has researched the world of mushrooms, mycelium, yeasts and molds in Chile, identified native species, worked on the protection and conservation of endangered species, built a unique mushroom collection of dehydrated specimens, and communicated the fundamental contribution of fungi to the existence of life on earth through outreach programs.
Under the leadership of the NGO ́s founder, Giuliana Furci, Chile became the first country in the world to include mushrooms in its environmental legislation. This has positioned Chile and the work of the Fungi Foundation as an example to follow for the conservation of fungi elsewhere.
“We are taking our commitment to the fungi, their habitats and the people who depend on them, to other parts of the world”, Furci explained. “We are in the midst of a critical moment in history in terms of devastation of habitats and extinction of species and must find new ways to regenerate our planet and protect our people. We believe the Fungi kingdom can be a significant contributor to this process with powerful, nature-based solutions”, added Furci.
Supporting the organization ́s new status are American mycologist Paul Stamets, one of the most influential scientists in his field, Peruvian-Australian actress and environmental activist, Nathalie Kelley, and Indian-British natural winemaker and geographer, Joanna Foster, who are joining the Fungi Foundation ́s Board of Directors, and jointly bring a wealth of knowledge and capacities, and diversity of experiences and backgrounds that will be a significant contribution to the success of the foundation in this new phase.
In 2018, it was Paul Stamets, together with primatologist Jane Goodall, who wrote the blurb on the back cover of Fungi Foundation ́s second volume of “Field Guide to Chilean Fungi”.
“I have known Giuliana since 2005 and have followed the work of the Fungi Foundation in Chile since its conception. Not only have they helped change Chilean law to recognize fungi as essential organisms in evaluating ecosystems before development, but their influence has spread worldwide. I look forward to contributing to the globalization of the foundation ́s programs from my position on the Board,” says Paul Stamets.
The research of ancestral uses of fungi, explorations and expeditions to pristine areas on the planet with emphasis on ancient ecosystems, and including fungi in public education on a global level are some of the goals for the near future along with triggering a change in the language of how nature is referred to; it is Flora, Fauna and Funga. 3F’s!
Regarding her joining the Fungi Foundation’s Board of Directors, Nathalie Kelley commented: “This is a great opportunity for me. It connects everything I am passionate about—food sovereignty, indigenous wisdom and rights, conservation, regenerative farming, and the soil web. I am learning of the incredible role that fungi play as connectors and recyclers of nature, and hope to contribute to communicating this powerful message”.
Even though the Fungi kingdom has been studied for decades, there has been a recent surge in interest, spurred, among others by the findings of mycologists like Paul Stamets on the role of fungi as connectors and recyclers of nature, their role in human health – from Penicillin to Lion’s Mane, and the success of the award-winning documentary Fantastic Fungi, by film director Louie Schwartzberg that took 13 years to record, and is currently the No. 1 documentary on Apple TV.
The Fungi Foundation is expanding its reach and programs at this exciting time and looks forward to work and collaborate with others to research, better understand and protect the largely unknown Fungi kingdom, and develop and communicate its potential as a contributor to global problems.