Thursday, 17 September 2015

Fungi Forage Ban on New Forest SSSI and Code of Conduct

NFA Presentment to September 2015 Verderers Court -- The NFA reveal the source of the 1.5kg limit, and the flawed logic that allowed the FC to incorrectly apply this as a daily allowance on the protected habitat of the SSSI. This followed up the July 2015 Presentment calling for an Epping Forest style ban on culinary fungi foraging on the New Forest SSSI. [Annotations have been added below as here in square brackets]
500g punnet of mushrooms,
1/3rd of the daily amount suggested in erroneous advice.

Fungi Forage –clarification and update

The NFA are seeking a very specific Epping Forest style ban on fungi foraging on the Crown Lands of the New Forest, the Site of Special Scientific Interest which is in the stewardship of the Forestry Commission.  Epping Forest Keepers are empowered to seize harvests from fungi foragers and in 2013 brought twenty successful prosecutions.  The NFA believe a similar regime would make it easier to deter commercial foragers who would no longer have recourse to pretend they are picking for personal use.

Wild Mushroom Picker's Code of Conduct

We are also concerned about out-dated and erroneous advice which the Forestry Commission continues to distribute about personal foraging on the New Forest.  Their leaflets and website suggest that everyone may collect up to 1.5 kg of fungi per person / per day.  This has absolutely no basis in law.  It is derived from a misreading of The Wild Mushroom Picker's Code of Conduct Published 3rd September 1998 by English Nature developed in conjunction with Forestry Commission, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust, the Association of British Fungus Groups and the British Mycological Society.

In the section on Collecting for the pot:

Only collect from plentiful populations and take no more than you want for your personal consumption. In line with codes in most other European countries. we recommend that you pick no more than 1.5 kg per visit or no more than half of the fruit bodies of any single species present. whichever is the lower amount.

On some SSSIs. most nature reserves and other protected areas it is unlikely that culinary collecting is allowed. Always consult the site owner or manager before collecting.

[This is the source of the 1.5kg “limit”, note a lower amount may be taken, but requires an almost super human ability to scan the unspecified area and instantly calculate half, also leading to the you take half the next person takes half of what’s left and so on until little remains.  However the subsequent advice suggests that culinary collecting is not allowed on SSSI or Nature Reserves, this advice is ignored in the Forestry Commission's version.]

In the section on Advice for Landowners & Managers:

If the land is a National Nature Reserve. other nature reserve or protected area. or an [sic] SSSI. it will probably be appropriate to limit picking to scientific collecting.

On SSSIs. picking fungi may require consent in writing from the statutory nature conservation body. [Natural England]

Keep taking half,
quickly approach zero
Ignoring the tentative language and the Zeno’s paradox baiting “take half” suggestion.  The 1.5kg limit is "per visit" which in context seems to cover a foray, but has been misapplied to mean "per person per day".  This ignores the guidelines for SSSI which deems personal culinary use inappropriate and requiring consent from Natural England.  The 1.5kg "allowance" applicable to unprotected habitats is irrelevant.

[The code provides no lower alternative amount for culinary collecting on protected areas, because the default is none.  This provides a loophole for those who selectively read the code.]

Natural England have admitted the code “could [be] expressed more clearly and emphatically to avoid any misinterpretation.”  Both of the Fungi specialist organizations originally consulted for the code have withdrawn support.  The ABFG (now the Fungus Conservation Trust) characterise it as “ill conceived and unhelpful”.  The BMS have dropped it from their website, and now state that “a complete ban on [culinary] collection (except for scientific and educational purposes, which would require permission) should exist in the New Forest.”  All of the original consultees acknowledge that the rise in popularity of personal foraging and the uncontrolled growth of commercial picking require a clearer, stricter code.  This is in the process of being developed, in the meantime, the Forestry Commission need to stop promoting their erroneous interpretation.


The Deputy Surveyor has said it’s unrealistic to enforce a total ban.  Traffic enforcement doesn’t catch every motorist who speeds, but that doesn’t stop us having speed limits.  The NFA accept the limitations on enforcement, but suggest a blanket ban will assist enforcement by removing the need to prove commercial intent and weigh amounts against the discredited allowance.  Whether the FC would target everyone is up to them.  In practical terms this may only affect foragers who are overdoing it to the extent that they come to the notice of the Keepers regardless of commercial or personal use.  Having a ban in place will allow enforcement to evolve.

[To be fair Epping Forest have 9 Keepers who cover less than a tenth of the area.]

The NFA ask for the Verderer’s support in continuing to call for the blanket ban on culinary fungi forage on the Crown Lands.  We also ask for your support for our request that the Forestry Commission remove inappropriate advice including the erroneous daily allowance from all literature and websites pertaining to fungi collection from the New Forest SSSI.

We need to send the message that the Crown Lands of the New Forest are a protected habitat and landscape.  Foragers who claim to be environmentalists should respect that the Forest is different.  The rules here should favour this habitat, not commercial greed or personal entitlement.

Brian Tarnoff, New Forest Association (Chair, Habitat and Landscape Committee)

Saturday, 18 July 2015

NFA Call to Ban Fungi Picking on the Crown Lands of the New Forest

Commercial picking on the New Forest is an unacceptable theft from the amenity of the autumn display, and damaging to the habitat. Commercial pickers harvest indiscriminately, taking every bit of fungi they find, and trampling everything in their way, leaving none for others or for nature. It has taken foraging to an unsustainable level.

The NFA demand an Epping Forest style ban on the Crown Lands of the New Forest, a habitat protected by law, with special designations including SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981' Section 13 any unauthorised removal of Fungi from SSSI is an offence and any removal of rare species is an offence. All commercial foraging of mushrooms / fungi, from the wild on any land, may be viewed as theft under The Theft Act 1968 Section 4 (3). which allows the activity for personal not any commercial use.

The Epping Forest byelaws do not specifically mention fungi, yet their policy and enforcement target its removal derived from an all inclusive prohibition. Their keepers are empowered to challenge pickers, seize and destroy harvests, and in some instances prosecutions are brought. A total ban would be much easier for the Forestry Commission keepers to enforce. They wouldn't have to prove commercial intent, or weigh amounts to an arbitrary allowance, they could challenge anyone engaged in the activity. Whether, in practice, the FC targets everyone, is up to them. The message it sends is that the commercial pickers will not have recourse to pretend they're just harmless gatherers for personal use.

We have asked the Forestry Commission for a policy of enforcement of a ban based on the model of Epping Forest. We have asked the National Park Authority and the Verderers of the New Forest to work with Natural England and rural Policing initiatives to help the FC devise ways to implement the ban suited to the management of the New Forest.

Foraging for fungi is no more acceptable on a SSSI and a National Park than carting away bushels of bluebells, or collecting butterflies or bird's eggs. With an increasing population, and trends in cooking shows encouraging foraging, it is unclear how sustainable this activity would be in the future. It's up to us to be responsible now and say that it's inappropriate on the New Forest. We're not entitled to simply take from nature in perpetuity and not be mindful of the consequences.

The display of fungi in the New Forest is as essential a part of the experience of Autumn in this protected habitat as the pannage pigs, and should remain for all to see and enjoy.

All images courtesy of Brian Tarnoff.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

NFA Oppose Application for a Potash Mine in North Yorkshire Moors National Park

NFA joined with other Nation Park Societies in writing to members of the North Yorkshire Moors NPA who will soon determine the above application. Campaign for National Parks (CNP) coordinated the matter and details can been seen on CNP’s website and a media release.

NFA lead five walks as part of the New Forest National Park Authority’s 2015 Walking Festival

The NFA will lead the following walks as part of the NPA’s third walking festival:

Monday 19th October - Rights of Common
Tuesday 20th October – Boats, Trains and Buses
Friday 23rd October - Solent 50 birds
Wednesday 28th October - Pylewell Estate
Friday 30th October - Avon Valley Villages

Details will appear on and on this site shortly.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

We Won! We Won!

At the New Forest National Park Authority Development Control meeting this morning the application for old peoples’ flats on the Redmayne site at Brockenhurst was unanimously refused. Also unanimously refused was the well meaning but dangerous proposal for mixed housing and a car park in the small gap between the Ashurst Village and West Totton against which the NFA has rigorously campaigned.

It may seem odd to crow "We Won!" over a car park and old peoples flats.  The car park however would have wiped out Ashurst allotments, grazing land, and other green space, it is significantly distant from the village centre, it's sole remaining purpose would be to alleviate the twice daily school run congestion on a residential road with its own adequate parking.

The old peoples flat opposition is somewhat more complex.  It relates to developers seeking to score money out of retirees from outside the area whilst not creating enough housing stock for starting local families, and young commoners.  This seems slightly mean until you realize how few new properties may be developed within the appropriately tightly controlled confines of the National Park.

For the NFA Planning Committee's responses to the Planning Authority see the links below:

30 March 2015 Application: 15/00138 Redmayne Engg Co., Station Approach, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TW 24 retirement apartments; car parking; air source heat pumps and sub station; landscaping     NFA Response


2nd May 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility    

19th April 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility

Monday, 27 April 2015

NFA Planning committee - Minerals & Waste Pound Bottom - Latest Position

The site is heading towards closure and the NFNPA would be unlikely to receive favourably any application to extend operations in any way. Further it is believed the operating company, SCS, have determined to exit from this type of work. Closure involves filling the remaining holes with waste and capping with top soil to restore the original contours and restoring land to original condition - heathland or grassland. There is no planning date for completion and the recent downturn in the construction industry and recycling improvements have reduced the demand for landfill. Both NFNPA and NFA would prefer to see the site closed sooner rather than later to end HGV movements in the north of the Forest. NFA would consider compromises to contour and vegetation cover to achieve earlier closure.
At a 2013 appeal hearing to an activity on the site, (NB not the full closure of the site), the Inspector stated:
"Because I have allowed the appeal to facilitate the final cessation of landfill operations in this location a time-limited permission is both necessary and reasonable. ……. The appellant confirmed at the Hearing that the end to landfill operations and restoration is anticipated by 2018-2020. The NPA sought an end date of 2016, but this appears unrealistic given the EA permit and current progress on the landfill operations. Accordingly, I have imposed a condition requiring the use of the land for stockpiling to cease by 31 December 2019 with restoration completed by 31 December 2020, because this provides for a balance between the environmental harm and the needs of the business."

NFNPA Enforcement, who undertake regular site visits, have informed NFA in April 2015 that they do not have any different information other than the potential end date of 2020.

The information contained in this summary is believed to be accurate but no guarantee can be given.

-- Graham Baker, Chair, Planning Committee

Saturday, 18 April 2015

2015 Annual General Meeting: Saturday 18 April 2015

Attentive NFA members listen to Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre
Chaired by President, Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, The 148 year old New Forest Association held its 2015 Annual General Meeting at Minstead Hall on Saturday 18 April.

Coffee was dished up by Sarah Ziegler and Val Thorpe, and members arrived from across the Forest, with the largest contingents coming from Ringwood, Lymington and Brockenhurst. Attendees included New Forest National Park Authority CEO Alison Barnes, who has shown consistent support for the work of the NFA.

There being no PA system available, the meeting was a rather intimate affair, with people having to speak up, and attendees having to cuddle a bit closer to listen. The business of the AGM was swiftly and deftly managed by the President, with accounts and minutes adopted and Council members elected. Recommendations for restructuring of NFA management to be better adapted to meeting the challenges of change and pressures currently facing the New Forest were also approved by a show of hands.

The report from the NFA Council to the Association membership highlighted some of the issues dealt with during the past year, including commercial fungi gathering, tranquillity, aircraft noise, undergrounding power cables and national planning policy changes for affordable housing and wider permitted development rights. And monitoring, supporting or opposing the never-ending flow of planning applications made for development throughout the New Forest.

Catherine Pascoe's talk on
Autumn Ladies' Tresses and
Field Gentian captures the audience
Directly following the AGM, fascinating talks were given by Reading University graduate, Catherine Pascoe on the distribution of the declining Autumn Ladies’ Tresses and Field Gentian Violets in an area heavily used by walkers, and by former Chairman, Peter Roberts, on NFA Campaigns of the past, with ideas for future action.

Central to Peter's message was the need for education for both visitors and residents alike, as to the special and fragile qualities of the New Forest – something the NFA is working on delivering not just within the Forest, but nationwide. The Association’s Education Group is working with the National Park Authority on plans for a Secondary Schools New Forest Conference to be held in Brockenhurst later this year. Peter advocated collaboration as opposed to confrontation with other national and Forest organisations, suggesting that continual dialogue would achieve the best results.
During the open session following the talks, Alison Barnes advised that a close relationship with the other National Parks was important. Officers replied that the NFA had been closely involved with the work of the Council for National Parks since before the New Forest was designated and this would continue.

Member Barry Olorenshaw offered to help take the NFA message to local businesses to garner more support, and Acting Chairman John Ward said he had been impressed on a recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales with the close relationship between all those working for the good of that National Park. Council Member, Emma Blake, who has recently taken over administration of social media for the NFA asked all members to register support for the NFA Facebook page, and went on to say that she had introduced a new feature, entitled “We are Watching” to highlight current Forest issues and encourage members to start discussion on the page.

Alison Barnes, Chief Exec
    of the New Forest National Park
fields questions from
the NFA Membership
John Ward concluded the meeting by saying that the Forest did not face a single major issue such as Dibden Bay, but its qualities were being continuously eroded by a multitude of activities primarily stemming from recreation. The problem was complex and the solutions difficult - but solutions had to be found and bravely implemented.

Following the meeting a demonstration was given by member Max Hadley of a system of field survey using mobile phones. It was intended for use on NFA's ongoing campaigns concerning low flying aircraft, overhead cables and surplus road signs.

Further enquiries John Ward: Tel: 01590 671205
Photos and Text -- Emma Blake