The case for adopting the "3rd F" is gaining momentum
August 7, 2023
3Fs Initiative Lead
This year, we have ramped up our work with the Flora, Fauna, Funga initiative, including hiring one of our volunteers as a new full time member to our team to lead this initiative, and continuously working on further protecting fungi by changing the way we think about them.
Since the inception of the FFF initiative, the term funga has gained incredible momentum. Scientists, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts worldwide have embraced it to signify the importance of fungi in our ecosystems. Additionally, over 70 organizations have adopted the term as well. By using this term, we inherently acknowledge fungi as a crucial and distinct component of life, just like "animals'' and "plants." Join the movement, just like Dr. Jane Goodall, Michael Pollan, Paul Stamets (and many more) by incorporating funga into your discussions, social media posts, and educational materials to spread awareness about this vital kingdom.
One of the most significant milestones for the FFF initiative so far in 2023 was seeing funga acknowledged by @UNBiodiversity.
On February 28, the UN CBD tweeted the article we had a part in writing through the European Forest Institute, about the crucial role that fungi play in preserving and enhancing biodiversity.
Another small step (but big in the long run!) was the acknowledgement by @REA, The Royal Spanish Academy, with over 2 million followers and a wide international network and mission to ensure the stability of the Spanish language. In a tweet earlier this year, they wrote funga alongside fauna and flora, in response to a user’s question.
Although the term has not been added to that dictionary yet, it is a major stepping stone to be added. Once funga is officially added to recognized dictionaries, it paves the way for its seamless incorporation into legislation.
The term funga has been officially used by 70 organizations worldwide in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Organizations include Reflora Brazil, Re:wild, the National Biobank of Thailand, IUCN, and the Mushroom Society of Utah, amongst many others.
From environmental nonprofits to educational institutions, every time the term is spread, it ingrains more into public consciousness and sets the distinction of this kingdom. Fungi will be included in conservation discussions when people realize they are not flora or fauna. The power of social media is propelling the term funga into the public consciousness and contributing to its rapid acceptance.
As the FFF initiative continues to gain traction, the focus is on turning awareness and term usage into concrete action. Collaborations with policymakers and environmental agencies aim to integrate fungi into conservation and agricultural policies, by demonstrating that the public already cares and is ready for such changes. This would ensure that fungi receive the protection they deserve, safeguarding the ecosystems that rely on them.
The journey of a word from grassroots movement to legal recognition is an arduous one. However, the FFF initiative and the Fungi Foundation as a whole has set its sights on achieving this milestone.
You might be wondering how “just” using a word will have an impact on any real-world legislation, but there is an easy and concrete answer. Policies, legislations, and treaties are all written in reality. Language creates reality, and by demonstrating that funga is already a reality, and then working closely with lawmakers and advocating for fungi's protection under international and domestic law, we can help elevate fungi to a position of higher conservation priority and make the point that they do matter.
Take for example the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It aims to safeguard species from trade-induced threats, but its title solely references fauna and flora, leading to a contentious issue when applying it to fungi. The absence of the term "Funga" in the initial reference dictionary caused ambiguity about fungi's inclusion, and a subsequent review involving mycological institutions and experts resolved the matter. Despite the recommendation to include fungi, they were incorrectly grouped under flora. This absence of a proper term for all three kingdoms (Fauna, Flora, and Funga) during the treaty's formulation contributed to the ongoing misconception that fungi fall under flora. Hence, spreading the F-word becomes crucial to address this misinterpretation and elevate the significance of fungi.
Are you a museum, policy maker, or an organization that wants to be mycologically-inclusive? Get in touch with us.
The Fungi Education 2023 Year-End Wrap-Up highlights the Fungi Foundation's accomplishments, including a remarkable surge in course enrollment, the publication of a Spanish curriculum, collaborations with partners like North Spore and Syzygy Science, and impactful outreach efforts in the tri-state area. The program's success is attributed to global support, and the Foundation anticipates continued growth in spreading fungal knowledge.
The 2023 STANYS conference in Syracuse celebrated fungi education with engaging presentations by Diana Richards from the Fungi Foundation. Teachers embraced free resources and received mushroom grow kits, fostering a new appreciation for mycology in classrooms. This marked a milestone in the foundation's mission. Stay tuned for more updates on their educational initiatives.