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Fantastic Fungi: Data and Design with Ploterre

To mark the winter solstice, we have today released the State of Our Trails Report 2022. At the heart of everything we produce is the importance of its design. We believe the way our reports, graphics - even our Instagram stickers! - are designed can convey to our community the kinds of stories we love to tell.

We caught up with Becky Kaye from Ploterre, about a particularly special design they created for us for the State of our Trails Report.

Mushrooms are all around us but often they’re hiding amongst the undergrowth waiting to be discovered. You just need to know where to look and what you’re looking for.

I feel a bit like that with data. There’s so much information on every possible aspect of life and nature but you need to know what you’re looking for.

So my role for the SoOT report was to forage the data for some useful insight and identify what it all meant.

But why fungi?

Trash Free Trails had a theme running through most of this year. And that theme was emergence and nature connection. In previous years the focus had been on establishing a route plan and figuring out the journey. This time we wanted to show the fruits of that journey.

And so back to the mushroom analogy. Mushrooms are the fruits of successful communication between trees. It’s known as the mycelium network and when everything is communicating successfully, the results are mushrooms. For TFT the mycelium network are all of you, the volunteers and A-Team, spreading the word and planning the trail cleans. The mushrooms are the results of those cleans.

So these mushrooms are exactly that – a summary of the results from the trail cleans.

The length of the stork is the time spent on cleans. The height of the mushroom is the total trash collected and every line beneath the cap indicates one week where a trail clean took place.

The overall shape of the mushroom has been created by the time trend of every clean that has ever taken place. And finally the width of the mushrooms are proportional to the total number of cleans.

This means when we create mushrooms for different groups (like riders, runners and roamers) they tell us different things about the habits of those groups.

The riders cover a large distance in a short amount of time and can collect and carry plenty of trash. They’re almost the most common species at trail cleans.

Runners can also quickly travel far but they only tend to carry small amounts of trash due to their ultralight nature. Whilst they’re not often spotted, runners have shown up together in the biggest groups ever seen in the TFT community.

The roamers don’t tend to travel as far but they do carry the most trash. They’re the second most common species at trail cleans and tend to work alone.

Special thank you to Becky for this incredible piece of work, exemplifying how data can be not only beautiful, but instrumental in conveying to others our Values.

More About Ploterre

Ploterre explores the natural world in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the environment and the species that call it home.

Armed with data in place of a map, the journey shapes every step of the process from the materials and tools used to the overall design of each new piece of work. Check out their work here.


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