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Mushroom picking now banned for all in the New Forest

Mushroom picking banned in the New Forest to protect ecosystem.

Forestry Commission no longer allowing people to collect a small amount of fungi for their own use.

wild mushroomsCommercial mushroom picking has been outlawed in the New Forest for several years, in a bid to protect the fragile ecosystem. Now the Forestry Commission has introduced a new policy which means no one will be allowed to take fungi from the New Forest National Park. This scraps a previous rule that allowed people to collect a small amount of mushrooms, no more than 1.5kg per visit, for personal consumption. The move follows increasing concern by members of the local community over the huge number of mushrooms being taken from the Forest. Edible mushrooms in the New Forest include cepes, chanterelles and morel.

 

The new "no picking" rule aims to save this year's crop, with commission bosses vowing to take action against anyone who persistently ignores the ban. In 2014, a monthly Court of Verderers in the Forest revealed that gangs had been illegally harvesting mushrooms, despite the commercial ban. Experts at the time believed people could make £50 per kilo of fungi, with some groups selling the illegally picked mushrooms for up to £2,500 a day. It prompted the introduction of new measures including people suspected of participating in illegal activity being stopped and told to surrender their haul or face prosecution.

 

honey mushroomsA Commission spokesman said: "There has been an increasing trend for foraging in recent years and this puts additional pressures on areas such as the New Forest. Due to the growing concern from conservation bodies and very real fears expressed by members of the local community, the Forestry Commission is no longer permitting picking on any scale."

 

The ban has the support of other key organisations, including the National Park Authority (NPA) and the New Forest Association. Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, chairman of the NPA, said: “We fully support the Forestry Commission’s decision to stop fungi picking from the land they manage in the New Forest. This is an important and decisive move because the New Forest SSSI is a stronghold for many rare and endangered species of fungi. Leaving fungi unpicked means they continue to contribute to the Forest’s fragile eco-system and web of life, ensuring the spectacle they provide can be appreciated by everyone.”

 

A spokesman for the National Trust praised the Forestry Commission's decision to impose the restriction and cited the detrimental impact that fungi foraging was having on the area's "unique" landscape and wildlife. He added: "The Trust supports landowners taking steps to protect fungi populations on sites designated for nature conservation."

 

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