Fungi of the Central West were virtually unknown but critically important for environmental sustainability and primary production, according to Rohan Leach.
As Central West Local Land Services (CWLLS) regional agricultural landcare facilitator, Mr Leach said people often heard about flora and fauna roles in the environment, but a new guide just launched aims to raise the profile of the third and sometimes forgotten fungi.
The Fungi of the Central Tablelands and Central West NSW identification guide aims to build awareness of fungi and their importance to landholders in the region.
Renowned fungi expert and author of the guide, Dr Alison Pouliot, said fungi played a key component in building organic matter in soils and helped provide structure and resilience to soil.
"The underground mycorrhizal networks that link fungi and plants provide soil architecture and aeration as well as filter water," Dr Pouliot said.
"Sometimes referred to as the 'underground internet', they provide entangled networks of nutrient exchange.
"As major recyclers, fungi break down organic matter with a potent cocktail of enzymes, returning nutrients to the soil."
Mr Leach said soil fungi formed special relationships with plant roots and the soil, making nutrients available and promoting plant growth and productivity.
"While many farmers would think of the negative connotations associated with crop fungal infections, the simple fact is that soil fungi are hugely beneficial to plant growth and soil health. Plus, without them we wouldn't have bread or beer!"
Mr Leach said locals could assist in the understanding of local fungi by contributing fungus sightings to Atlas of Living Australia.
The Fungi of the Central Tablelands and Central West NSW identification guide is available from Central West and Central Tablelands LLS offices free of charge.
This project is supported by CWLLS through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.