Humans depend on fungi to provide food and medicine, and to maintain the environments we inhabit. Yet their conservation has not captured the attention of conservationists, perhaps because existing normative economic, ecological, and social ways of creating value for plants and animals are a challenge to adapt for fungi. Using a critical physical geography perspective, this chapter argues that the value of fungi becomes clearer using alternative forms of accounting focused on interconnectivity. The concept of econo-ecologies refocuses value on the importance of work and exchange.
Environments and ecosystems around the world support human life, culture and basic needs in myriad ways. Indeed, the ‘labour’ of non-humans, or Earth Others, as we refer to them here, is hugely diverse. But ecological descriptions of Earth Other interdependencies demonstrate that rethinking labour to build sustainable futures should not be a purely human-focused project. Much of the work that keeps our planet going has nothing to do with humans. We humans benefit from it but it is not for us.