Species Profile

Boreal Felt Lichen Atlantic population

Scientific Name: Erioderma pedicellatum
Taxonomy Group: Lichens
Range: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Other Protection or Status | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Boreal Felt Lichen

Boreal Felt Lichen Photo 1



The Boreal Felt Lichen grows on the branches or trunks of Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, White Spruce, or very occasionally Red Maple trees. This “leafy” lichen is typically 2 to 5 cm in diameter, but it occasionally grows as large as 10 cm. The edges of the body of the lichen are slightly curled up, exposing the whitish underside. Overall the lichen appears either bluish grey (when it is well hydrated) or dark grey to greyish brown (when it is dry). Lichens are unusual creatures. A lichen is not a single organism as most other living things are; rather it is a combination of two organisms that coexist in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship. Most of the lichen is composed of fungal filaments, but living among the filaments are cells of a blue-green alga.


Distribution and Population

The Boreal Felt Lichen is a globally rare species. It has been documented in Atlantic Canada, Sweden, and Norway, but it is currently believed to exist only in Canada. There are two disjunct populations: the boreal population (the island of Newfoundland) and the Atlantic population (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Most of the Atlantic population of the Boreal Felt Lichen has disappeared. It persists at only three of the 47 locations where it is known to have occurred in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. There are only 13 individuals at these three sites, all of them in Halifax County, Nova Scotia. Having experienced a dramatic decline of over 90% over the past 20 years, the Atlantic population is in imminent danger of disappearing from the Maritimes.



Typical habitat for the Boreal Felt Lichen is northerly exposed forested slopes where cool and moist conditions prevail throughout most of the year. These mature forest sites are also rich in moisture-loving species such as sphagnum mosses and Cinnamon Fern. In well-lit forests, the Boreal Felt Lichen is found predominantly on tree trunks' whereas in more shaded habitats it is found mostly on branches.



The Boreal Felt Lichen is long-lived, and the average age at which adults reproduce is about 30 years. Growth of a new lichen individual is the result of interaction between the spores of a mature lichen and an alga that is present in the environment. This alga is found in the water sacs of a small liverwort plant that also grows on the surface of the same trees as the lichen, and it has been suggested that new lichen individuals can only develop inside these liverwort plants. The presence of this alga makes the lichen particularly sensitive to acid rain and other pollutants. When the lichen grows on the particularly acidic bark of spruce trees, it has a reduced ability to survive when stressed by acidic air pollutants (compared to when it grows on fir trees). The sensitivity of the Boreal Felt Lichen to airborne pollutants could make it a good indicator species for air quality. The Boreal Felt Lichen has been called the “Panda Bear” of the lichens. International interest in this ancient life form has resulted in an appeal from the International Association of Lichenology to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the protection of the lichen and its habitat.



The most serious threats to the Boreal Felt Lichen in Nova Scotia are air pollution, acid rain, and deforestation.



Federal Protection

The Boreal Felt Lichen, Atlantic population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The Boreal Felt Lichen is listed as a vulnerable species under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Other Protection or Status

The Boreal Felt Lichen is listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Lichenized Fungi of the World (International Committee for the Conservation of Lichens, Salzburg, Austria, 1996).


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Boreal Felt Lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum), Atlantic Population, in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Recovery Team for the Atlantic population of boreal felt lichen

  • Mark Elderkin - Chair/Contact - Government of Nova Scotia
    Phone: 902-679-6219  Fax: 902-679-6176  Send Email


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date Recovery projects are engaging municipal governments in order to explore valuable opportunities and tools that would benefit species at risk and their habitat, including the Boreal Felt Lichen. These governments also have been encouraged to engage in stewardship and monitoring activities. Only one site of Boreal Felt Lichen was known at the time of the original listing and now 9 sites are known based on recent inventories. Unfortunately, it is believed to be extirpated in New Brunswick, but recovery efforts are still ongoing at the known sites in Nova Scotia. The few landowner contacts that have been made have been very positive so far with the landowners agreeing to protect known Boreal Felt Lichen sites. Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited, a forestry industry company, has been very helpful in supporting recovery planning efforts. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Habitat suitability maps have been generated using a Geographical Information System (GIS) model based on habitat characteristics of known Boreal Felt Lichen sites. Habitat and environmental data is collected from all new Boreal Felt Lichen locations and is used to continually improve the GIS mapping data. Information on plant condition, maturity, and size also is collected and is a good indicator of habitat desirability. Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to mark the location of these new sites. New found location information is incorporated in the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resource's, Significant Species and Habitats Database, the NS Department of Environment's Protected Areas Database, and the Atlantic Conservation Data Center. This information is then applied in land use planning such as environmental impact assessments, research and in coordinating forest harvesting activities on crown lands. Summary of Recovery Activities Municipalities are provided with habitat conservation, recovery, and species at risk information and resources in order to make informed protection and restoration decisions. Information is shared between recovery teams, municipal government, and other non-government organizations to incorporate municipal perspectives in recovery planning and stewardship activities. Pamphlets and identification cards on Boreal Felt Lichen were published in 2003 and distributed to forest stakeholders with the intent of increasing the protection of felt lichen sites. GIS maps also are distributed to private and government forest managers and staff with the intent of encouraging them to participate in the mapping of Boreal Felt Lichen and implement management activities to prevent habitat loss. Alternative management practices in Boreal Felt Lichen habitat are being considered and include the development of managed buffer zones compatible with the survival and recovery of the lichens. URLs Sierra Club of Canada:http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/programs/biodiversity/forests/campaign.shtml?x=332 Species at Risk in Nova Scotia:http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/endngrd/


PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Boreal Felt Lichen Erioderma pedicellatum in Canada (2015)

    The Boreal Felt Lichen, Erioderma pedicellatum, is a leafy lichen that is greenish when moist and grey when dry, with a felt-like upper surface. The thallus grows to about 2-5 cm across, and occasionally to 12 cm. The underside is white, and its edges usually curl upwards, giving it the appearance of having a white fringe. It differs from the two other North American species of Erioderma by having small, reddish-brown fruit bodies on its upper surface and no vegetative propagules. The photosynthetic partner in this lichen is a cyanobacterium. The Boreal Felt lichen is an ‘umbrella species’ for a community of rare lichens, mosses and invertebrates found in the Balsam Fir forests of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in eastern Canada.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Boreal Felt Lichen, Atlantic population (2015)

    This species is believed to be extirpated from New Brunswick, and the remaining population in Nova Scotia is small. Intensive monitoring efforts over the past ten years indicate that both the number of occurrences and number of individuals are declining. These declines are projected to continue in the future. The main threats include habitat loss and deterioration as a result of forest harvesting, air pollution, climate change, and predation by introduced slugs.
  • Response Statements - Boreal Felt Lichen (2004)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Boreal Felt Lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum), Atlantic Population, in Canada (2007)

    The boreal felt lichen (Atlantic population) is under the management jurisdiction of provincial governments. The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. The boreal felt lichen was listed as Endangered under SARA in January 2005 and under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act in 2003. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Atlantic Region (Environment Canada) and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources led the development of this recovery strategy, in cooperation with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39–41).


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (2005)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: March 2004 (2004)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.