Look but don’t touch – that’s the message from Forestry Commission experts sperarheading a new campaign to highlight the importance of fungi in the New Forest.
Environmentalists working with the National Grid grantor want people to back a ‘no-picking’ code on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Hampshire.
The call follows fears that the growing trend for foraging is putting additional pressures on areas such as the New Forest. Due to the growing concern from conservation bodies and members of the local community, the Forestry Commission is no longer permitting picking on any scale from the SSSI.
In previous years, a ban on commercial collection and a personal collection limit have been in place, but now the Forestry Commission – which works closely with National Grid where pylons or pipelines cross its land – says it necessary to take a precautionary approach.
With the support of partners, the Commission is aiming to spread the message about just what a special place the New Forest is.
Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor for the Forestry Commission, said: “We want people to get out into the Forest to enjoy the autumn spectacle of fungi, we just ask that they don’t pick. Fungi are great to admire and marvellously photogenic too. By appealing for a no picking rule everyone can enjoy this seasonal display.
“We will continue to review our position on fungi picking on the New Forest SSSI, taking advice from Natural England and other conservation bodies. We are working with partnership organisations to help develop national codes of good practice for foraging.”
He added: “We understand that it may take time for residents and visitors to learn about and understand this new rule, so our campaign aims to get across key messages about the ‘no-picking’ rule, the importance of the New Forest for fungi and appeal to all to help us protect this special place.”
The campaign has the support of many local partners, including the New Forest National Park Authority, New Forest Association, National Trust and others.
Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “This is an important and decisive move because the New Forest Site is a stronghold for many rare and endangered species of fungi. Leaving fungi unpicked means they continue to contribute to the Forest’s fragile ecosystem and web of life, ensuring the spectacle they provide can be appreciated by everyone.”
“We support landowners taking steps to protect fungi populations on sites designated for nature conservation”
A National Trust spokesman added: “As a partner in the ongoing study into New Forest fungi policy and the potential detrimental impact picking has on the Forest’s unique landscapes and wildlife, we support landowners taking steps to protect fungi populations on sites designated for nature conservation.”
Posters will be displayed in popular Forestry Commission car parks to raise awareness in the run up to Autumn.
For more information about fungi in the New Forest visit the Forestry Commission website