Fashion for wild mushrooms forces council into licensed picking

A fashion, inspired by television chefs, for wild food has forced Epping Forest to introduce licences to prevent mushroom pickers stripping it bare of fungi.

A fashion, inspired by television chefs, for wild food has forced Epping Forest to introduce licences to prevent mushroom pickers stripping it bare of fungi.

With 1,600 species of wild mushroom the Essex forest has been a favourite haunt of fungal connoisseurs for centuries.

Until now the Corporation of London, the City authority that manages the forest, has been prepared to turn a blind eye to the picking, which contravenes by-laws.

But with the burgeoning popularity of television cookery programmes that urge viewers to gather their own food, the forest has been inundated with amateur and professional chefs. They are taking so many mushrooms that the forest's ecological balance is in serious danger.

"It is not just individuals," a spokesman for the Corporation said. "We have seen restaurateurs leaving the forest with sackloads of mushrooms to sell in their restaurants.

"It is against the by-laws to pick anything but we did have people picking far too many mushrooms. There is also a safety issue. Many people do not know which mushrooms are safe to eat and which ones will make them ill.

"It's been a growing problem over the last couple of years. One of the reasons is that a lot of TV chefs have been encouraging people to get food for free and one of the best places to go for mushrooms is Epping Forest."

The licences will be free and issued to 500 people on a first-come-first-served basis. They will be valid for one day and limit the mushroom picker to 1.5kg of fungi.

Wardens will be on hand to make sure nobody goes over their limit and a special leaflet is being prepared to guide people around the forest's sheer variety of fungi. As well as the edible varieties of mushroom, such as the chanterelle, parasol and horn of plenty, the forest contains rarer types such as the Devil's bolete, a deadly species that has appeared only once in the past hundred years.

"The first licences won't be issued until August, when the mushroom season begins," the spokesman said

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk