New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Association

Is focused foraging for edible fungi justifiable?

New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Association

Postby GeoffDann » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:39 pm

The Forestry Commission has just banned all fungi foraging in the New Forest. The Forager's Assocation has responded with a press release urging them to reconsider, claiming it is not based on scientific evidence. Here's my take on the science, stripped of the mythology and vested interests:

http://www.geoffdann.co.uk/?p=1711

With the main mushroom season just around the corner, the long-running battle between foragers and conservationists has just gone into overdrive. This time it is serious: the Forestry Commission has banned all fungi foraging in the New Forest National Park.

I can’t say I’m surprised. The New Forest has increasingly become a victim of its own reputation as something of a Mecca for fungi foragers. It has been attracting pickers, both commercial and personal, from much further afield, and in recent years it has become harder and harder to find any fungi. However, the situation is quite complicated and many of the claims currently flying around both the mainstream media and the internet need to be examined quite carefully.

What has actually happened? According to numerous reports in the mainstream media (for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... taken.html), the Forestry Commission has now prohibited all picking of fungi on its land in the New Forest. The reasons given are that commercial pickers are flouting a 1.5kg per person per day rule, picking up to 50kg. The simplest solution to this problem, they say, is to ban all picking. The decision was taken, the FC has said, to protect both future populations of fungi and populations of insects whose grubs (“maggots”) feed on the fruit bodies.

In response to this ban, an organisation called “The Forager’s Association”, which describes itself as “An international professional foragers association, promoting sustainability and ecological stewardship through teaching and harvesting wild plands and fungi for used as food, drink and medicine” has issued a press release (see: http://www.foragers-association.org.uk/). I should disclose at this point that I am not a member of this organisation, but that I do know several of its members.

The contents of this press release are worth a close look if we want to get down to the truth underlying these issues. The press release is titled:

“Leading foraging educators claim New Forest fungi picking ban is will undermine future fungi growth”

Not only is the Forager’s Association claiming that fungi picking does no harm to future populations but that it actually helps the populations to grow. This is quite some claim, and I’ll examine it in detail below.

[continues...]
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Re: New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Associatio

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:47 pm

Geoff

You made some good points in your article, and made a quite reasonable argument.

I have witnessed picking in Witley Common, in Surrey, where large groups of people pick every mushroom in sight, then an 'expert' sorts them out, taking the edibles, and leaving the rest. I've seen them leave huge piles of rotting fungi. This is dplorable behaviour. Yes they do denude the area of macro-fungi. My concern is exactly the one that you express, that picking large quantities may well prevent the fungus from spreading to new habitats far away. Fungi produce so many spores because most will land on an unsuitable substrate.

I have not seen this industrial hoovering up of fungi in the New Forest, but I suspect it goes on.

The question that I would like answered is what difference will this make. Clearly they were not enforcing the 1.5 Kg per person limit, so why will they now enforce this new ban? Or will it make it easier to bring prosecutions, as there is no longer a burden on them to prove the person was exceeding the limit.
Fungi and Nature Photography: http://www.leifgoodwin.co.uk/Fungi/Fungi.html
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Re: New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Associatio

Postby GeoffDann » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:22 pm

I've just written a much longer 2000 word post explaining why I think the Forestry Commission is wrong. Doesn't make the Forager's Association's ropey arguments any less ropey though.

http://www.geoffdann.co.uk/?p=1731

As far as the "gangs of illegal pickers" are concerned - the argument between the FC and the FoA misses the point. The FoA say they don't believe it happens, the FC have banned all picking in an attempt to stop it. But hold on a moment...these illegal pickers have already decided to blatantly break the law. Are they going to stop doing it because the FC have banned previously-legal personal picking?? Of course not. All this ban will achieve is for there to be more fungi left for the illegal pickers to pick and sell.

RE: the legal situation - a lot of people are claiming that the FC don't have any power to enforce the ban. They aren't even threatening to prosecute. Offenders will be asked to "return the mushrooms to the forest."
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Re: New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Associatio

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:13 pm

Many years ago I would see little vans marked "New Forest Mushroom Company" or something similar. When the ban on largescale commercial picking came in, these vans disappeared. So yes, the ban or limit had an affect. Whether it will prevent large scale picking by 'gangs', I know not. My guess is not, since commercial picking is banned at Witley Common, but it goes on regardless.
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Re: New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Associatio

Postby GeoffDann » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:00 pm

Turns out the ban isn't a ban. I had a long conversation with a reporter from Radio 4 today, who had just interviewed the head of the Forestry Commission. The ban is voluntary. The FC have no legal power to enforce it (unlike in Epping Forest). In other words, everybody is free to ignore it and there is no meaningful sanction the FC can respond with.
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Re: New Forest Fungi picking ban: FC vs Forager's Associatio

Postby Roy Miller » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:15 am

Well, that no doubt will please a few
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