This beginner lichens course will consist of a blend of field and classroom sessions to provide you with a general introduction to lichens as a group, focusing on morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry, alongside identification and recording.

Lichens are an important part of many ecosystems and can be found all around us. These are amazing small plant-like structures found on a range of surfaces ranging from rocks and boulders to buildings and the sides of trees. The knowledge and skillset acquired over the duration of this course will equip you with the confidence to delve further into lichens as a group, where follow-up support is offered by the course tutor.

What will be covered during this course?

  • Introduction to lichens – biology, chemistry & ecology
  • Identifying common lichens around the FSC centre and local field trips.
  • How to identify lichens:
    • Demonstrations of equipment – handlens, microscope & ID guides
    • Thallus types/structure – crustose, foliose, fruticose, leprose & squamulose
    • Key features – apothecia, perithecia, soredia, isidia, rhizines & cilia
  • Lichen literature & the use of identification keys
  • Chemical testing and safe application as a form of identification
  • Woodland and parkland habitat management for lichens.
  • How to record lichens:
    • Concept of herbaria and reference collections
    • Introduction to biological recording and submitting records to the BLS

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Who Should Attend? – This course is suited for anyone with in interest or enthusiasm in lichens and is pitched at an introductory level. This course is a good introduction to parkland lichens and habitats, where there will be a focus on woodland management to conserve the interest that has developed here.

Knowledge Level – Beginner. Level descriptors can be found on the following web-page: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge – No prior knowledge is required before attending this course and will cover the basics in lichen identification and recording.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  •  Display a greater understanding of lichens (biology, chemistry & ecology)
  • Confidently use equipment and resources provided
  • Identify the main thallus types/structure in the classroom & in the field
  • Recognise the main features used for ID in the classroom & in the field
  • Identify some of the commoner lichens & their associated features
  • Gain insight into lichen literature & the use of dichotomous keys
  • Successfully apply chemical testing for identification purposes
  • Understand the importance & process of biological recording/collecting specimens

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

About the Tutor

April Windle

April Windle is a naturalist with a particular interest in lichens. She is currently self-employed and involved in a variety of lichen education and conservation projects, alongside co-chairing the Education & Promotions Committee of the British Lichen Society.  Her previous employment history includes Plantlife International, the Natural History Museum, Exmoor National Park Authority and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. LinkedIn: April Windle / Twitter: @aprilwindle

Example Timetable


Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 9:00 am
The course will end at 5:00 pm

**Please note this is a provisional timetable. Plans may change dependent on weather, Field Centre, and group preference. 

1. Morning - classroom
Introduction to lichens – biology, chemistry, ecology & bioindication. Followed by lichen identification & recording, which includes:

  • Demonstrations of equipment – hand lens, microscope & ID Guides.
  • Concept of herbaria and reference collections.
  • Thallus types/structure – crustose, foliose, fruticose & leprose etc.
  • Key features – reproduction, attachment & colour etc.
  • Introduction to chemical testing and safe application.

2. Afternoon – field visit

1. Morning – classroom

  • Personal time to consolidate learning and work through specimens, with tutor available to help & answer questions.

2. Afternoon – field visit

*Due to the limited amount of time available, this course will not cover how to complete a cross-section or use a compound microscope. Only a dissecting scope will be used as part of this workshop.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The course includes:

Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
Field excursions to apply new knowledge
Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
Clear objectives and progression


  • ★★★★★

    April really is a people person and was able to establish a relaxed atmosphere during the first session

  • ★★★★

    Being totally immersed in the subject with a group of like minded people and an excellent tutor. April and her volunteer lichen enthusiast assistants were all endlessly helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject . Please keep running these courses.

  • ★★★★★

    It was all fascinating, the course tutor was very good, the other course participants were very interesting

  • ★★★★

    The balance of field and classroom work was good and I felt I came away with sufficient tools and understanding to continue to expand my knowledge of the group. The tutor introduced the topics in a logical and steady way and followed these up with field experiences to reinforce klnowledge and understanding. A well thought through course.

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.

Before You Attend

What to Bring?

  • Sturdy walking boots (ideally) or wellies.
  • Good set of waterproofs (jacket & trousers) and an umbrella.
  • Warm clothing (i.e. fleece, hat & gloves).
  • Sun cream & clothing for cooler weather.
  • Pens, notebooks and waterproof covers/plastics bags for the field.
  • Phones and cameras will also prove useful for pictures.
  • A day rucksack inc. lunch box, water bottle & thermos flask.
  • A x10 magnification hand lens. Those costing between £3.00 - £5.00 are sufficient.
  • Please bring your own refreshments & pack lunch.

Recommended Equipment & Literature

Please note these are not essential, but just a suggestion for you.

  • Field Studies Council fold-out guide – Lichens on Twigs (£3.75), Lichens of heaths & moors (£3.75), Churchyard Lichens (£3.75), Rocky Shore Lichens (£.3.75) and Urban Lichens 1 & 2 (£3.75 each), Rocky shore lichens guide (£3.75).
  • A “Foldout Guides Wildlife Pack: Lichens” can be purchased for £17.50 inc. 6 Field Studies Council Foldout Guides. This includes all the guides listed above.
  • Frank Dobson – A Field Key to Lichens on Trees (£16.50), Coastal & Seashore (£16.50) and Churchyards (£16.50).
  • Frank Dobson - Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (£34.99).

Opportunities to attend this course

This course is not currently available to book. Dates will follow soon.

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Progress Your Learning

This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, delivered by expert tutors with an approachable learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of natural history. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our online portal gives you time to study at your own pace and fit the lessons around your own schedule.

If you have any questions about our courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions or email [email protected]

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