Surrey Wildlife Trust on the problems of foraging wild fungi
PUBLISHED: 11:23 23 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 23 October 2013
The explosion in gathering, preparing and consuming ‘wild food’ has led to an increase in foraging on Surrey Wildlife Trust sites, with rangers reporting unprecedented numbers of collectors picking fungi to sell on to the restaurant trade.
“It is against the law to collect mushrooms for commercial purpose, as it constitutes theft,” says Andrew Jamieson, SWT countryside services manager. “The majority of the collecting is taking place on Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which have legal protection for their wildlife value.”
Fungi play a vital role in ecology, as they are one of nature’s great recyclers - helping to break down dead wood and other organic material, returning nutrients into the soil. The ‘fruiting bodies’ also act as an important food source for a wide range of organisms, especially small mammals and insects.
“Some of the species of fungi found on our sites are particularly rare and picking them severely reduces their ability to reproduce,” says Andrew. “In some cases the number of people collecting is so high that sensitive habitats are being damaged through trampling.
“We are keen that visitors come to our sites to admire the many fascinating shapes, forms and colours the fungi world has to offer, but please leave them there for future generations to enjoy.”