Where? The Eastern Highlands (Cairngorm Mountains), and Western Oceanic Highlands (Kintail, and the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye) in Scotland.
When? Saturday 21st May until Saturday 4th June, 2005 (2 weeks).
Why? Primarily to train a group of young Lichen Apprentices into understanding the delights and complexities of montane lichens. These young folk are not raw beginners; they have developed significant field and laboratory skills in lichenology, primarily under the tutorship of Brian Coppins. But, this is also a unique opportunity for like-minded experts to gather together and share experience, companionship, discuss problems and look at – and collect – montane lichens in some of the most fascinating, enigmatic and beautiful landscape sites in Europe.
Who will be there? Alan Fryday (Michigan) will be leading, together with Brian Coppins (Edinburgh). From the international lichen fraternity, Jutta Buschbom (Düsseldorf), Tassilo Feuerer (Hamburg) and Katie Glew (Washington), will also be attending, but regretfully, Josef Hafellner (Graz),Hannes Hertel (Munich), Per G Ihlen (Bergen) and Tor Tønsberg (Bergen) have declined due to work pressure. Invited British members include Steve Chambers, Vince Giavarini, Alan Orange (Cardiff) and Ray Woods. The Lichen Apprentices are: Andy Acton, Peder Aspen, Andrea Britton, Andy Cross, John Douglass, Chris Ellis, Anna Griffith, Richard Hewison, Nick Hodgetts, Joe Hope and Louise Olley.
What is the accommodation like? Accommodation is in ‘Base Camps’ run by the National Trust for Scotland. These are actually splendid, comfortable, well-equipped, with rooms sleeping 4 or 5 at most, plus shower rooms, drying rooms, and space to set out microscopes. The first week will be at Mar Lodge, Braemar (to access the Cairngorm Mountains, plus mid-altitude lichen-rich sites such as Craig Leek, The Lion’s Face and Creag Choinnich. (At Creag Choinnich, Rhizocarpon ridescens (pictured above) was recently discovered, as new to Britain). The second week will be at Kintail outdoor Centre (to access the Kintail tops, and allow excursions on to the Isle of Skye to look at the fabled Trotternish Ridge). We will hire a mini-bus from Edinburgh to help with transport.
Additional Info The Scottish montane lichen flora is recognised as of high importance in a European context, spanning as it does the more continental and boreal Eastern Highlands, and the oceanic Western Highlands. Fryday (2004) states that lichen vegetation of the Western Highlands “is apparently unique in Europe, and probably in the world, and is of international importance.” However, it is also recognised that montane lichen habitats throughout Europe (and indeed the world), are largely under-explored and poorly studied. This Workshop is seen as an opportunity to gather together a group of known experts in this field, to focus and work together, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences. What of the results? Most people today are hampered by lack of time to spend working on collections and writing up results. No major publications are expected from this Workshop, but the circulation of “Working Notes” between participants on taxa found from field observations and later laboratory identifications, will be initiated.
In the British Isles, since Alan Fryday moved to Michigan, we have no active, resident ‘expert montane lichenologist’. When Scottish Natural Heritage (the government Conservation Agency in Scotland) required experienced and capable field workers to assess whether the montane lichen flora of important sites in Scotland was in “favourable condition” (in order to comply with EU directives), there was no-one able to carry out this work. However, we have recently been training a group of dedicated Lichen Apprentices (young, fit and healthy), who are extremely keen to “get into” montane lichens. For them to have this opportunity to work in the field with acknowledged experts of montane taxa will provide an invaluable starting point. The only ‘non-young’ member of this group is Peder Aspen, but he is a retired geologist, so his inclusion in the team will be extremely useful.
We have great hopes for this excursion, and see it as perhaps the first of a series of international montane “Rockers Workshops”, with future venues taking place elsewhere in Europe and indeed further afield.