|Not Mush-Room For Pickers In Royal Parks
80 mushroom pickers received police warnings in last five years
Nearly 80 mushroom pickers in the Royal Parks have been issued with police warnings in the past five years according to the latest statistics. The vast majority of warnings occurred in Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks.
The findings, which also include two prosecutions in the past year, have been revealed as The Royal Parks warns about the damage caused by foraging for mushrooms.
With the wet and mild conditions continuing throughout this autumn, ecology experts are worried that eco-systems and food for wildlife is being stripped from the parks by those preparing special meals and dinner parties.
Autumn is a peak time for the growth of mushrooms, the visible part of fungi. During this time they produce and disperse spores to reproduce.
Julia Balfour, Head of Ecology for The Royal Parks said:
Fungi play a crucial role in the balance of the eco-system as they are natural decomposers. Fungi recycle vital nutrients from dead plants and make these available to living plants. This process is especially important in nutrient poor conditions such as those found in acid grassland.
Andy Overall from the London Fungus Group said:
Not only does foraging damage eco-systems and deprive animals of food, but it could also land a picker in court, as one 47-year-old found out last year when he was given a conditional discharge and fined for breaching The Royal Parks regulations in Richmond Park.
Pc Paul Barber from the Royal Parks Operational Command Unit of the Metropolitan Police said: “We’ve noticed a steady rise in mushroom foraging over the years which could possibly be attributed to celebrity chefs’ endorsement. In some cases, we’ve caught individuals with enough mushrooms to fill a small dustbin.”
Caroline Hobart, Chair of the British Mycology Society's Field Mycology and Conservation Committee, the leading UK Mycological society dedicated to the promotion and education of the science of fungal organisms and processes, said: