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Rare lichen rescued from Lake District blown-down tree

image copyrightStuart Walker/National Trust
image captionThe lichen had to be moved by hand

A rare lichen has been transplanted by hand after the Lake District tree it was living in blew over.

Lungwort - Lobaria pulmonaria - used to be widespread in England but is now found in only a few places due to air pollution and habitat loss.

The oak in Borrowdale Valley, which is between 200 and 300 years old, is believed to have held one of the largest communities in the country.

The lichen has been moved to other trees in in a bid to create a new home.

The oak blew down in a storm earlier this year, and ecologists were concerned that if it began to rot, the lichen would die.

Several veteran oaks, ash, sycamore and hazel trees were then identified as suitable receptors for it.

The National Trust was involved in the operation, which involved removing a large patch of lungwort and reattaching it to the new tree using wire mesh, staples and eco-friendly glue.

image copyrightStuart Walker/National Trust
image captionNetting was one of the measures used to secure the lichen to its new home

April Windle, one of the staff involved, said: "Lichens are such amazing lifeforms and play such a fundamental role within these woods.

"[They also] act as early warning signals for future changes that are about to come, due to their sensitivity to any disruptions in their environment."

Maurice Pankhurst from the National Trust said: "The community of lichens in Borrowdale is one of the finest in northern Europe.

"Just as an art gallery would protect their collection of fine and rare paintings, it's essential for us to protect these rare species."

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