This autumn, the Forestry Commission is launching a new campaign to highlight the importance of the New Forest for fungi, and to appeal to people to support a ‘no-picking’ code on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
There has been an increasing trend for foraging in recent years and this puts additional pressures on areas such as the New Forest. Due to the growing concern from conservation bodies and very real fears from 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. For the first time, the Forestry Commission feels it necessary to take a precautionary approach and, with the support of partners aims to spread the message about just what a special place the New Forest is.
Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor for the Forestry Commission, explains:
“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.
The Forestry Commission 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.”
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:
“We fully support the Forestry Commission’s decision to stop fungi picking from the land that they manage in the New Forest. This is an important and decisive move because the New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest 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.”
A spokesperson for the National Trust added:
“The National Trust welcomes the introduction of the Forestry Commission’s new fungi campaign. 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, the Trust supports landowners taking steps to protect fungi populations on sites designated for nature conservation.”
The campaign will be backed with a suite of materials to clearly inform people of the new code and posters will be displayed in popular Forestry Commission car parks to raise awareness. We are working with Natural England and the Police to deal with commercial collection in the most appropriate way.
This year we can expect an autumnal feast for our eyes in New Forest woodlands as early as mid-September, with impressive displays of vibrant autumn colours predicted by Forestry Commission England.
Autumn’s foliage displays are certainly affected by the weather and this year we have our fingers crossed that it should be good for producing a great autumnal colour display. It will depend a little on the weather in September but the ground work has been laid for a good show.
Forestry Commission England is encouraging visitors to document their autumn discoveries by posting images of autumnal colour on social media channels using the hashtag #autumnleafwatch.
For more information about fungi in the New Forest visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforestfungi and for exploring England’s national woods and forests this autumn, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/autumn.
Notes to Editor
1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/englandsforests
Esta Mion, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission - South England Forest District. firstname.lastname@example.org / 07900 137 957.