Opening a new debate

Is focused foraging for edible fungi justifiable?

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sat May 01, 2010 12:56 pm

Neil wrote:I once read some years ago that because wild fungi are just that - wild, they therefor belong to no one, but surely when you enter somebody's land to take something you do not own you automatically become a trespasser, the same as when you walk your dog along a footpath and you purposefully allow it to wander off the footpath onto private land you are trespassing as you are not using the footpath for it's intended purpose.

Just something to consider.

Neil.


I believe the law states that it is only illegal to pick mushrooms on somebody-else's land if you are doing so with the intention of selling them. This intent makes it theft, but if they are for personal consumption it is not considered theft.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sat May 01, 2010 1:38 pm

There is some interesting information here:

http://handbooks.btcv.org.uk/handbooks/ ... ction/3712

From the above: "Under common law it is not normally an offence to pick fruit, foliage, fungi or flowers, which are growing wild, if they are for personal use and not for resale, and providing that none are specifically protected. Thus seasonal gathering of blackberries, mushrooms or holly is normally permissible, provided this is from a right of way or other public place, and that there are no bylaws prohibiting it. "

Clearly picking fungi (or plants) on an SSSI is a criminal offence, and doing so on private land without permission would I assume also be a criminal offence. I recall that some years back I would often see vans belonging to the New Forest Mushroom Company, but I have not seen one for years. I think the commercial picking in the New Forest was stamped down on, although I have been on one occasion when an area had obviously been hoovered clean. One point worth mentioning is that we have much less woodland than countries such as Russia where mushroom picking is a national pastime.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Neil » Sat May 01, 2010 2:28 pm

GeoffDann wrote:
Neil wrote:I once read some years ago that because wild fungi are just that - wild, they therefor belong to no one, but surely when you enter somebody's land to take something you do not own you automatically become a trespasser, the same as when you walk your dog along a footpath and you purposefully allow it to wander off the footpath onto private land you are trespassing as you are not using the footpath for it's intended purpose.

Just something to consider.

Neil.


I believe the law states that it is only illegal to pick mushrooms on somebody-else's land if you are doing so with the intention of selling them. This intent makes it theft, but if they are for personal consumption it is not considered theft.


So here is this chap, living in a country cottage, lucky enough to have Agaricus augustus growing in his front garden, waits patiently for it to grow to a decent size, comes out in the morning to pick it for breakfast only to see a 'forager' pulling it up and walking off with it - AND HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO SHOVE A PITCH FORK UP THIS CHAPS BACKSIDE ?!!

Neil.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sat May 01, 2010 2:42 pm

Leif Goodwin wrote:Clearly picking fungi (or plants) on an SSSI...on private land without permission would I assume also be a criminal offence.


I do not believe this to be the case. Provided there is public access to the land (i.e. if it is crossed by a footpath) then it is not an offence to take plants/fungi for personal consumption.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sat May 01, 2010 2:44 pm

Neil wrote:
GeoffDann wrote:
Neil wrote:I once read some years ago that because wild fungi are just that - wild, they therefor belong to no one, but surely when you enter somebody's land to take something you do not own you automatically become a trespasser, the same as when you walk your dog along a footpath and you purposefully allow it to wander off the footpath onto private land you are trespassing as you are not using the footpath for it's intended purpose.

Just something to consider.

Neil.


I believe the law states that it is only illegal to pick mushrooms on somebody-else's land if you are doing so with the intention of selling them. This intent makes it theft, but if they are for personal consumption it is not considered theft.


So here is this chap, living in a country cottage, lucky enough to have Agaricus augustus growing in his front garden, waits patiently for it to grow to a decent size, comes out in the morning to pick it for breakfast only to see a 'forager' pulling it up and walking off with it - AND HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO SHOVE A PITCH FORK UP THIS CHAPS BACKSIDE ?!!

Neil.


I think this would technically count as trespassing, but not theft.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby admin » Sat May 01, 2010 5:02 pm

National Trust property in the UK is regulated by the National Trust bylaws. The NT regulates the use of its land (which is private property just like your front garden or mine), and the authority for this comes from the National Trust Act 1971, section 24.

Under Act the following clause is relevant: "No unauthorised person shall dig up or remove, cut, fell, pluck or injure any flowers, plants, fungi, moss, ferns, shrubs, trees or other vegetation growing on Trust Property or remove any seeds thereof or injure any grass or climb any tree."

SSSIs are further regulated, in England, by Natural England and 'damage' to living material on these sites is illegal without specific permission.

In 2007 application was made on behalf of River Cottage, in John Wright's own words, "to take some people to Lambert's Castle on a fungus foray." The application appears not to have referred to foraging, the large volume of paying clients involved, the commercial nature of the venture, or the fact that it was to repeated on several occasions through the autumn of 2007.

Application for a fungus foray can reasonably be expected to have created a different impression to that given on the River Cottage website promotion that: 'the day begins with a forage' and that the course is: 'all about gathering and cooking wild mushrooms. We will be targeting the delicious edible varieties offered up for free'. The turn of phrase 'beautiful West Dorset/East Devon countryside' in the advertising reflects the fact that Lambert's Castle sits on the Devon/Dorset border, and the SSSI includes sections of the property under the jurisdiction of both Dorset and Devon authorities.

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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sat May 01, 2010 5:07 pm

Deleted as this was covered by Michael who posted at the same time as me.
Last edited by Leif Goodwin on Sat May 01, 2010 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sat May 01, 2010 5:09 pm

I see Michael posted just before me. From his post, even if a public footpath crosses an SSSI, you do not have the right to pick fungi and plants along the path. I presume the laws concerning SSSIs and other protected areas override common law.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sat May 01, 2010 5:12 pm

Neil wrote:
So here is this chap, living in a country cottage, lucky enough to have Agaricus augustus growing in his front garden, waits patiently for it to grow to a decent size, comes out in the morning to pick it for breakfast only to see a 'forager' pulling it up and walking off with it - AND HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO SHOVE A PITCH FORK UP THIS CHAPS BACKSIDE ?!!

Neil.


I am sure country folk have recourse to some very ancient rights governing the usage of pitch forks and burning torches. Common law is an odd beast.
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Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Neil » Sat May 01, 2010 9:48 pm

GeoffDann wrote:
Leif Goodwin wrote:Clearly picking fungi (or plants) on an SSSI...on private land without permission would I assume also be a criminal offence.


I do not believe this to be the case. Provided there is public access to the land (i.e. if it is crossed by a footpath) then it is not an offence to take plants/fungi for personal consumption.



Geoff, you seem to be saying here (or it can be interpreted this way) that if an SSSI has a footpath crossing it, then you can go ANYWHERE on the SSSI to take fungi.
Please tell me you don't mean it like this.

I would also like to know where you stand on Nature Reserves. Even if there are no public rights of way (PROW) going through the reserve, as long as it is open to the general public, you are in law 'invited' to enter this land.
So do you use this as an excuse to pillage the fungi there, or do you respect the reserve as a place where all flora and fauna are protected for all to see ?

I really do feel all the comments on this subject should be passed on to Natural England so that they are more aware of how 'foragers' are bending laws to further their interests, it cannot be left like this in a state of limbo, the law must be tightened up.

Neil Mahler.
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