City Corporation vows to protect Epping Forest from commercial fungi foragers
Commercial fungi pickers in Epping Forest are being warned that they are damaging the ancient woodland’s ecology and could be fined or prosecuted.
Green spaces provider the City of London Corporation protects and manages the site, which is home to a wide range of fungi species, some of which are of national importance. It conserves 11,000 acres in London and south east England, including Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches.
The City Corporation says large-scale commercial foragers are stripping the Forest of wild mushrooms and selling them to restaurants and markets, depriving insects and animals such as deer of a valuable food source, damaging the woodland’s biodiversity and threatening rare species.
Fungi plays a vital role in sustaining Epping Forest’s wildlife habitats and are a major reason it is designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ and a ‘Special Area of Conservation’. They are protected under Epping Forest Byelaws.
Removing large amounts of fungi can harm the Forest’s ancient trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old, as particular types of fungus help to protect their roots.
18 people have been prosecuted since 2014 with Epping Forest Keepers often issuing verbal warnings. Most recently, commercial foragers were caught with a haul weighing 49kg and will now face legal action.
Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, said:
“Fungi plays an incredibly important role the delicate balance of biodiversity which makes Epping Forest special.
“We welcome the millions of people who come to enjoy this protected site. But I urge our visitors to leave the fungi how they find them – untouched.
“Our job is to protect this ancient woodland for everyone to enjoy. Hoovering up fungi on such a large scale is ecologically damaging and is simply unsustainable.”
Epping Forest is London and Essex’s largest green space and has been owned and managed by the City of London Corporation since 1878.
The woodland has over one million trees – including 50,000 ancient pollards of Beech, Hornbeam and Oak. There are around 500 rare and endangered insect species in the Forest.
The City of London Corporation’s green spaces, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They are funded by over £29million a year from the City Corporation, together with donations, sponsorship, grants and income generated on site.
Notes to Editors
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
Carl Locsin, Media Officer, City of London Corporation
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