The new Lichen LEAF course (Laboratory Extension and Fieldwork) – a step on from Zoom -HOW CAN YOU HELP?

 A pilot course, known as LEAF, was developed to support the learning of people who had previously met via Zoom (as part of a LABs group – Lichens for Absolute Beginners). The aim was to provide a face to face experience to develop practical skills in the laboratory and field situations. 

Sue Knight, Mark Stephens and Margaret Chapman formed a planning group to put the LEAF idea into practice. Margaret Chapman stepped forward to be a local coordinator and liaised with an experienced tutor, Rebecca Yahr. The success of the project was down to the commitment of those involved and the detailed planning. An evaluation and follow-up meetings were held to inform future courses and we are happy to share what we have learnt. 

            The course was delivered in May 2023, in Fife. In brief- the venue was a village hall, with all field trips being within 30 minutes’ drive. Margaret Chapman oversaw practicalities during the week. Attendees (15) found their own accommodation and shared cars where possible. Activities were varied and covered a wide range of topics. Three sessions each day (morning, afternoon and evening) meant we could cover a wide range of topics, including those requested by attendees. Four field trips gave the opportunity to concentrate on corticolous, maritime, saxicolous and heathland lichens. Talks covered lichen habitats, Cladonias and lichen terminology, while demonstrations and practicals included “keying out” and microscopy. The tutor provided constant support and the participants provided the drive and good humour.  It was hard work, but a rewarding experience for everyone.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? The BLS has funding and is keen to support other such courses. 

If you would like any help to plan one please get in touch. Tutors and courses  are needed to support lichenologists at all levels – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, and also in expanding knowledge of the lichens that grow in specialist habitats. We are happy to share more detailed information on any aspect e.g. the timetable, planning, funding, etc.  Please contact