In November 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially designated the “Qingyuan Forest–Mushroom Co-culture System (QFMCS)” of China’s Zhejiang Province one of the world’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), making China the country with the most GIAHS in the world with its 19 sites recognized.
Located in the southwest of Zhejiang Province, QFMCS dates back to the 13th century. For hundreds of years, local residents have developed an edible fungi industry through the rational use of forest resources. They created and developed an agroforestry system for mountainous regions with the support of “forest–mushroom co-culture technology”, which organically integrates forest conservation with mushroom cultivation and agricultural production. With such a system, lands can be rationally utilized in Qingyuan, as forests, terraces, villages and rivers are perfectly arranged to support and reinforce each other, thus forming a unique ecological landscape. In Qingyuan, one can learn the whole course of the evolution of edible fungi cultivation techniques, given that all these techniques, from making a slit in a tree bark and carving a hole in a log to using a substrate, have been well preserved.
The time-honoured forest–mushroom co-culture system that has been passed down from one generation to another is now bursting with new vitality. The system has not only safeguarded the food supply and livelihood of local people, but also generated a series of mushroom-related traditions featuring dramas of mushroom growers, unique dialects, temple fairs for the Mushroom God, and mushroom Kung Fu. In short, the system has become an exemplar of humans and nature living in harmony.