Opening a new debate

Is focused foraging for edible fungi justifiable?

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby admin » Sun May 02, 2010 9:22 am

Several useful points from Neil. SSSI rules are pretty clear, public access or no public access, the flora and fauna on the site are subject to the same strict protection. If you walk a public footpath that crosses an SSSI and knowingly damage or remove living material without authority you are liable to prosecution. Otherwise there would be little point in having an SSSI that included public access, and to have to bar the public from enjoying SSSIs crossed by public footpaths in order to protect them against minority foraging interests would be very sad.

The problem with NE at the moment is that it seems to be in such a state of flux that it is difficult to know who in authority this issue should be addressed to. But I take your point and it is worth pursuing. Let's see first how this forum progresses.

MJ
Michael Jordan
Forum moderator
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:43 pm

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sun May 02, 2010 11:18 am

Neil wrote:
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 did not say anything about footpaths crossing an SSSI. I was talking about footpaths crossing private land. SSSIs are clearly a different case. I generally steer clear of SSSIs.

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 ?


That depends on why it is a nature reserve and what sort of fungi we are talking about. If a place is protected because it attracts rare insects, is there really that much of a problem picking common fungi?


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.


Given that the "problem" is likely to get worse, if the law is unclear then it should be clarified.
GeoffDann
 
Posts: 754
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Sussex

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sun May 02, 2010 11:30 am

So where, according to the people here, is it acceptable for me to go looking for fungi to eat? I rather suspect that the answer is "your own garden", and that means even if I'm collecting purely for my own consumption. What about foraging on commons? "Common" means common. This is land which has historically been owned by and used by the common people...for grazing their animals, for collecting wood for burning, etc... What about fungi growing by the side of a country lane? Is picking those depriving passing car-drivers of enjoying the fungi?
GeoffDann
 
Posts: 754
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Sussex

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sun May 02, 2010 12:18 pm

GeoffDann wrote:So where, according to the people here, is it acceptable for me to go looking for fungi to eat? I rather suspect that the answer is "your own garden", and that means even if I'm collecting purely for my own consumption. What about foraging on commons? "Common" means common. This is land which has historically been owned by and used by the common people...for grazing their animals, for collecting wood for burning, etc... What about fungi growing by the side of a country lane? Is picking those depriving passing car-drivers of enjoying the fungi?


I sense a hint of sarcasm in your post. The forestry commission allows collecting for personal use, so the New Forest is fine if you live nearby, although they sometimes temporarily close areas for conservation reasons. I think all royal parks forbid picking. Nature reserves are just that, and they are owned by the nature trusts and others, so you do not have a right to collect.

I would not collect at the side of busy roads due to heavy metals from exhausts, and other toxins. But there are plenty of meadows and common land around.

I'm afraid the truth is that this is a small densely populated island with little (semi) wild land. I don't see how you think you have a right to go into private land, such as a nature reserve, and pick fungi. It was bought by a group of people explicitly for creating a nature refuge. I was at Ebernoe last year and some passers by told me about some parasol mushrooms. They are common but I went to see, and there were some lovely specimens. I left them, and clearly other people leave them, which allows others to enjoy the display. I know for a fact that picking is banned at Ebernoe because I have permission to collect for scientific purposes only. Each year Witley Common in Surrey is hoovered clean by pickers who walk the land with carrier bags and baskets. I would not personally object to someone picking a handful of fungi although it might not be allowed by the rules, but people often visit and collect huge quantities, and most are preserved, by drying or pickling. I see little problem with people picking field mushrooms of bluelegs in meadows, though farmers might object.

I think the National Trust allows picking for personal use, but I am not sure, so you should check with them if interested. So forestry commission land and (potentially) NT land means there are plenty of places to visit. But not nature reserves and protected areas such as SSSIs.
Fungi and Nature Photography: http://www.leifgoodwin.co.uk/Fungi/Fungi.html
Leif Goodwin
 
Posts: 1080
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:41 pm

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Neil » Sun May 02, 2010 12:36 pm

Geoff,

Earlier on you gave us the impression you are a conservationist - that is evidently not the case.

You have now said "Generally I do not take from SSSI's" and obviously the term Nature Reserve means nothing to you so you DO pillage in both these areas.

I think you've said enough Geoff.

Neil.
PS. Do you have any commoners rights handed down to you ? If not, you are not a commoner and have NO right to take anything from the common.
All common land is now classed as Open Access land, certain rules and regulations apply to protect them and at certain times of the year there may be restrictions on access.
Neil
 

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby admin » Sun May 02, 2010 3:56 pm

One of the many pertinent reasons why the ABFG will not go down the road of Creative Commons Licensing, recently adopted by the BMS, is highlighted by this discussion. The details of place names and grid references are only available to registered users of the CATE database and these people are carefully screened. If anybody has been following the frenetic interest on another wildlife forum of contributors desperate to learn where morels, St George's Mushroom, Chicken of the Woods and so on are emerging, they will perhaps understand why the Association adopts this policy.

The ABFG is beginning to assemble quantities of data from Ebernoe Common on CATE and the Sussex WT would, I believe, have a right for serious complaint if we were to broadcast to the public at large which fungi appear, where and when, on the Common.

Times have changed. When I was a kid, my mother would think nothing of going out to woods near our home in springtime and collecting a basket of wild daffodils, or bluebells, or primroses, to stick in a vase on the windowsill for a few days until they wilted and died. "Well it's not doing any harm! It's only picking the flowers!" Today such activity is unacceptable, anti-social, and rightly so. Fungi largely 'fell out of the loop' because they were not well enough represented by field enthusiasts and conservationists, but that is now thankfully changing, albeit slowly.

To my mind, the trendy 'food for free' fad has a kind a kind of romantic ring with very little credence or justification in modern, over-populated Britain where our countryside is under increasing threat. The 'Ray Mears' way of self-sufficiency may appear glam on TV, but is totally irrelevant to present day realities. The great majority of so-called edible wild fungi have very little taste to them, and virtually no nutritional value. But even with those that are tasty, like Chanterelles and Ceps, for foragers to go out on an autumn morning and strip a whole bank of golden Chanterelles, a Beechwood of Ceps, or a pretty carpet of Laccaria amethystina, is difficult to separate from mindless self-indulgence, because it deprives others of the delight of just looking at, and appreciating the beauty of a fascinating and too often maligned aspect of nature.

The Mushroom Foraging page of the River Cottage website includes a photograph of a car boot piled high with what look to be Macrolepiota species, I would guess there to be at least 100 fruit bodies. Further down the page is a vast pile of Laccaria amethystina that must have included well in excess of that quantity, yet the species is virtually tasteless from a culinary viewpoint. At the bottom left of the same page is a photo that seems to belie John Wright's personal assertion to me that, "On each of our four visits to LC last year week we picked less than one basket of fungi between the 27 people there."

MJ
Michael Jordan
Forum moderator
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:43 pm

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sun May 02, 2010 4:35 pm

Neil wrote:Geoff,

Earlier on you gave us the impression you are a conservationist - that is evidently not the case.


I said I was politically/philosophically deep green.

You have now said "Generally I do not take from SSSI's" and obviously the term Nature Reserve means nothing to you so you DO pillage in both these areas.

I think you've said enough Geoff.


Clearly not, since this is the third time you've either misquoted me or put words into my mouth. I do not take wild plants and fungi from SSSIs. It's blatantly illegal. I have indeed taken mushrooms from areas labelled "nature reserve" but only if there were a lot of them and only if they are common species. I do not believe this makes me an environmental rapist. It does about as much damage as picking blackberries in a nature reserve.

PS. Do you have any commoners rights handed down to you ? If not, you are not a commoner and have NO right to take anything from the common.
All common land is now classed as Open Access land, certain rules and regulations apply to protect them and at certain times of the year there may be restrictions on access.


Right...so that answers the question, Neil. According to you, all mushroom picking for consumption ought to be banned. If that's what you think then there's not a lot I can say in response, is there? It's not that I'm pillaging SSSIs that you are annoyed about. You are annoyed about the whole idea that people go out picking mushrooms at all, especially people who claim they are part of the environmental movement. Is that correct?
GeoffDann
 
Posts: 754
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Sussex

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby GeoffDann » Sun May 02, 2010 4:57 pm

admin wrote:One of the many pertinent reasons why the ABFG will not go down the road of Creative Commons Licensing, recently adopted by the BMS, is highlighted by this discussion. The details of place names and grid references are only available to registered users of the CATE database and these people are carefully screened. If anybody has been following the frenetic interest on another wildlife forum of contributors desperate to learn where morels, St George's Mushroom, Chicken of the Woods and so on are emerging, they will perhaps understand why the Association adopts this policy.

The ABFG is beginning to assemble quantities of data from Ebernoe Common on CATE and the Sussex WT would, I believe, have a right for serious complaint if we were to broadcast to the public at large which fungi appear, where and when, on the Common.

Times have changed. When I was a kid, my mother would think nothing of going out to woods near our home in springtime and collecting a basket of wild daffodils, or bluebells, or primroses, to stick in a vase on the windowsill for a few days until they wilted and died. "Well it's not doing any harm! It's only picking the flowers!" Today such activity is unacceptable, anti-social, and rightly so. Fungi largely 'fell out of the loop' because they were not well enough represented by field enthusiasts and conservationists, but that is now thankfully changing, albeit slowly.

To my mind, the trendy 'food for free' fad has a kind a kind of romantic ring with very little credence or justification in modern, over-populated Britain where our countryside is under increasing threat. The 'Ray Mears' way of self-sufficiency may appear glam on TV, but is totally irrelevant to present day realities. The great majority of so-called edible wild fungi have very little taste to them, and virtually no nutritional value. But even with those that are tasty, like Chanterelles and Ceps, for foragers to go out on an autumn morning and strip a whole bank of golden Chanterelles, a Beechwood of Ceps, or a pretty carpet of Laccaria amethystina, is difficult to separate from mindless self-indulgence, because it deprives others of the delight of just looking at, and appreciating the beauty of a fascinating and too often maligned aspect of nature.

The Mushroom Foraging page of the River Cottage website includes a photograph of a car boot piled high with what look to be Macrolepiota species, I would guess there to be at least 100 fruit bodies. Further down the page is a vast pile of Laccaria amethystina that must have included well in excess of that quantity, yet the species is virtually tasteless from a culinary viewpoint. At the bottom left of the same page is a photo that seems to belie John Wright's personal assertion to me that, "On each of our four visits to LC last year week we picked less than one basket of fungi between the 27 people there."

MJ


It sounds to me like there needs to be a review of the entire legal situation. What I would say for sure is that this is not a "fad." The British public are much more interested in than they were a few years ago and the numbers of people who want to know about edible wild fungi is large. I know this simply from the amount of people I personally know who have asked me to take them out and teach them about foraging for fungi. It comes as no surprise to me that River Cottage manages to attract busloads of them. It also comes as no surprise that wildlife websites are inundated with people who want to know where they can find St George's mushrooms and morels. Although my answer to them would probably be that if you put enough hours in then you'll eventually find out for yourself. In the case of St George, they are probably better off checking their local cemetery than pillaging nature reserves... As I said in the other thread...where else are people supposed to go to learn about this stuff? If the knowledge ever existed among the "folk" then it is long-lost, so anyone who is interested in learning about it must either go to place like wildaboutbritain, sign up for a River Cottage bus trip, or they need to run into somebody like myself who happens to have spent most of his adult life foraging...and when I got into it there was no River Cottage fad. I went out, as does many a teenager, looking for psilocybe semilanceata, but soon discovered all sorts of other fungi. It actually took me three years before I found what I had initially gone out looking for by which time I had begun to familiarise myself with the most easily identifiable edible species and by then I was bitten by the bug. It became a challenge for me to learn how to identify as many traditionally-consumed species as possible...it became a bit like a trainspotting, except with the added twist that if I got it wrong I might end up dead. Except now I am beginning to feel like what I've done is the equivalent of Bill Oddie's childhood pastime of collecting the eggs of rare birds...
GeoffDann
 
Posts: 754
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Sussex

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Neil » Sun May 02, 2010 5:54 pm

................ or the equivalent of a determined twitcher trampling all over the farmers crops to see a rare bird only to succeed in frightening it away preventing others from seeing it.

By the way, you have not been misquoted Geoff, I have only referred to what you wanted us to believe.

Neil.
Neil
 

Re: Opening a new debate

Postby Leif Goodwin » Sun May 02, 2010 6:55 pm

GeoffDann wrote:
It sounds to me like there needs to be a review of the entire legal situation. What I would say for sure is that this is not a "fad."


Yes and no. None of us need to forage, and yes some people have always harvested wild food. 30 years ago I recall my family digging up wild horse radish roots to make the vile sauce. But there is now a big industry around food and foraging, encouraged by TV chefs and others.

GeoffDann wrote:
The British public are much more interested in than they were a few years ago and the numbers of people who want to know about edible wild fungi is large. I know this simply from the amount of people I personally know who have asked me to take them out and teach them about foraging for fungi. It comes as no surprise to me that River Cottage manages to attract busloads of them. It also comes as no surprise that wildlife websites are inundated with people who want to know where they can find St George's mushrooms and morels. Although my answer to them would probably be that if you put enough hours in then you'll eventually find out for yourself. In the case of St George, they are probably better off checking their local cemetery than pillaging nature reserves... As I said in the other thread...where else are people supposed to go to learn about this stuff?


Join a local fungus group. There are plenty about. And they won't bleed you dry unlike River Cottage people.

GeoffDann wrote:If the knowledge ever existed among the "folk" then it is long-lost, so anyone who is interested in learning about it must either go to place like wildaboutbritain, sign up for a River Cottage bus trip, or they need to run into somebody like myself who happens to have spent most of his adult life foraging...and when I got into it there was no River Cottage fad. I went out, as does many a teenager, looking for psilocybe semilanceata,


Tut tut, that's disgraceful. You should have used a capital P, as in Psilocybe semilanceata. :D

GeoffDann wrote:but soon discovered all sorts of other fungi. It actually took me three years before I found what I had initially gone out looking for by which time I had begun to familiarise myself with the most easily identifiable edible species and by then I was bitten by the bug. It became a challenge for me to learn how to identify as many traditionally-consumed species as possible...it became a bit like a trainspotting, except with the added twist that if I got it wrong I might end up dead. Except now I am beginning to feel like what I've done is the equivalent of Bill Oddie's childhood pastime of collecting the eggs of rare birds...


I think the truth is that people can be taught about fungi, without them 'raping' the countryside. I suspect a greater appreciation of the countryside can help the green cause. I note that Roger Phillips who wrote one of the most respected popular fungi guides also wrote a book about foraging for wild food. I bought both almost 30 years ago. Collecting wild fungi is in my opinion nothing like collecting bird's eggs. Collecting a modest number of mature fruiting bodies of common species is fine, but not on an SSSI, or nature reserve, although I suspect I am in the minority here. I first collected wild mushrooms about 25 years ago. But I do think that something like the River Cottage industry is very harmful. It is clear that these people do not teach people about responsible picking, and all they care about is making money.
Fungi and Nature Photography: http://www.leifgoodwin.co.uk/Fungi/Fungi.html
Leif Goodwin
 
Posts: 1080
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:41 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Fungus foraging - the debate.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest