With more species than all plants and vertebrates put together, fungi occur right across the globe. They provide essential ecosystem services which support animals and plants. Healthy ruminants need special fungi in their stomachs and fungi have a symbiotic relationship with 80% of all plants, meaning that both fungi and plants benefit from living in close proximity to each other. Fungi also recycle plant and animal waste into useful products
Fungi are also extremely important to humans. The antibiotic Penicillin was derived from the fungus Penicillium and its discovery revolutionized medical treatment. Indeed most antibiotics and statins are fungal in origin. Fungi are also needed to make bread, beer, wine, cheese and many other foods. The ecological and economic importance of fungi is huge and the conservation of this group is essential to the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and our quality of life.