Lichen legacy

Victorian wins provincial lichen-naming bid to honour late husband

The first time they met, Anne Hansen and Henry Kock both showed up for a canoe trip wearing mismatched canvas sneakers.

“We like to be different, in a fun, whimsical kind of way,” said Hansen, an artist based in James Bay, who wears two long braids and colourful knits. Their shared love of the outdoors also helped bring the couple together, more than two decades ago.

The pair lived in Ontario, where Kock earned a reputation as a horticulturalist at the University of Guelph. In 2005, he died of brain cancer.

Last week, Hansen found a fitting way to memorialize her late husband. For $4,000, she bought  the scientific naming rights to a newly-discovered lichen.

The horsehair lichen – which Hansen says resembles Kock’s beard – will be known as Bryoria kockiana.

“He would be thrilled,” said Hansen, of how Kock would feel about his lichen legacy.

After more than a decade of exposure to pesticides during his young working life, Kock dedicated himself to organic gardening. Hansen believes his cancer was a result of these pesticides, many of which are now banned.

Lichenologist Trevor Goward recently discovered the species of lichen in the southern Interior. In fact, he discovered two new species and he donated one to the Ancient Forest Alliance and one to The Land Conservancy to be put toward a Name-that-Lichen auction, which closed Dec. 15.

The naming auctions are the first example of “taxonomic tithing,” meaning they raise money for their own conservation, according to Goward.

“I believe that future auctions of this kind will garner even more support as Canadians awaken to the honour of being linked, if only in name, to other living species that share this planet with us,” he said, in a release.

The Sulyma family purchased naming rights from The Land Conservancy for $17,900. Parmelia sulymae has been named in honour of Randy Sulyma, a biologist at the University of British Columbia who died tragically in January. The money will got toward a $350,000 campaign to purchase a land corridor between two pieces of Wells Grey Park in the southern Interior of B.C.

The Ancient Forest Alliance will use the money from Hansen’s winning bid to map and report on old-growth forest on Vancouver Island.

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