Foragers urged: Please don’t pick mushrooms in Epping Forest

Foragers urged: Please don’t pick mushrooms in Epping Forest


People are being asked to help safeguard Epping Forest’s delicate ecological balance by not collecting fungi at the protected site.

The City of London Corporation, which conserves the ancient woodland as a registered charity, says fungi are vital to the health of Epping Forest’s one million trees. 55,000 of these are ancient, reaching up to 1,000 years of age.

Fungi play an important role in protecting the roots of trees, providing them with water and vital minerals.

Epping Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation and one of the few remaining extensive natural woodlands in southern England. It is home to a wide range of fungi species, some of which are of national importance.

Epping Forest’s 440 endangered fungi species are rare and scarce wood-loving fungi, and picking damages the valuable forest biodiversity that has developed over the past 10,000 years.

They are also a valuable food source for animals such as deer and many rare insect species depend on them for survival.

Fungi are protected under Epping Forest byelaws, and the City Corporation has prosecuted nine people for bye-law breaches since 2022, with offenders receiving criminal records.

One person was caught with a 49kg haul, equivalent to multiple large black sacks.

 Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, Ben Murphy, said:

“Fungi play a remarkably important role in the delicate balance of biodiversity which makes this ancient woodland so special.

“Picking mushrooms can seem harmless, but it actually damages our wildlife habitats and threatens rare species.

“We want people to come and enjoy our ancient woodland and experience these natural wonders for themselves, but I hope by explaining why Epping Forest's fungi is so unique, we can change behaviours and discourage foragers from this location.  If not, as Conservators, we are duty bound to take enforcement action.".

The City of London Corporation manages over 11,000 acres of open space in London and southeast England, including Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches, and over 180 smaller sites in the Square Mile, investing over £38m a year.

Most of these green spaces are managed as charitable trusts and are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve.  

They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves, and are protected by special legislation.

Notes to editors

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