Fungi foragers urged to 'only take what they need' to protect habitats

Irresponsible foragers are clearing whole areas of mushrooms in one hit and damaging fragile ecosystems, environmentalists warn.

Fungi foragers are being urged to only take what they need in order to protect natural habitats.

According to Forestry and Land Scotland, irresponsible foragers are clearing whole areas of mushrooms in one hit, damaging fragile ecosystems. 

People planning to make the most of autumn’s bounty and try their hand at picking mushrooms have been asked to take extra care.

Woodland creation supervisor Graeme Miller said: “Although we see these beautiful mushrooms in the forest, most of the fungus is below our feet.

“It connects the trees to each other and they can share information, share nutrients and helps them in times of drought.

“When people are foraging there’s heavy footfall across the woodland floor. That’s when a lot of these young mushrooms actually get damaged and never get tall enough to open their cap and release their spores.”

Mr Miller said he believes people should be encouraged to forage, but to ensure they do it responsibly.

Graeme Miller urges people to forage responsibly

Many animals including birds, hedgehogs and insects also rely on mushrooms as a source of protein.

He said: “A nice way to think about it is an apple on a fruit tree. You could pick every apple on the fruit tree and the fruit tree would survive.

“But if you start climbing all over the tree, it’s going to get damaged, it’ll lose branches and eventually won’t be able to produce.”

People are also being reminded that some species are dangerously poisonous and can cause fatalities if eaten.

Forestry and Land Scotland’s environment manager Colin Edwards urged people to make sure any information they have is reliable and up to date and never eat anything unless they are 100% sure it’s edible.

If unsure, consult the Scottish Wild Mushroom Code.

“I’d urge people to make absolutely sure they know what they’re picking – before they head out – and pick only what they’re going to use, being sure to leave some for others,” he said.

“I often see families out with bags full of fungi, and hundreds of fungi turned and left broken on site because they’re not edible.”

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