Mushroom pickers damaging health of ‘London’s green lungs’

With fungi out in full force across beauty spots and parkland in Britain, amateur enthusiasts are being slammed for their impact on fragile ecosystems in the capital, and air quality.

Mushroom pickers that have taken to Epping Forest to forage for wild fungi have been told they are risking damaging the delicate environment and negatively impacting ‘the green lungs of London’. 

The City of London Corporation, which manages the ancient woodland, has issued the statement in response to the large numbers of mushrooms currently being picked illegally and sold on to restaurants and markets. The forest’s 1m trees, some of which are 1,000 years old, rely in fungus for vital water and minerals, and without this source they may struggle to survive. 

Not only is the area designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and  Special Area of Conservation, it is one of the last remaining extensive natural woodlands in southern England, has the largest collection of ancient trees and is an invaluable carbon sink that directly improves air quality in the capital. A clamp-down on illegal picking has been underway in recent years, with 27 people prosecuted since 2014, and efforts are now set to step up. Last year, one individual alone was caught with a 49KG haul.

‘We are urging people not to pick mushrooms in Epping Forest. Their irresponsible actions are damaging the green lungs of London. Our job is to protect the future of this ancient woodland which is of national and international conservation importance,’ said Ben Murphy, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee. ‘We will not tolerate criminal activity in Epping Forest, and we will take swift action against anyone damaging wildlife and threatening rare species.’

In spring, the City of London Corporation switched to an electric vehicle fleet for refuse collections in a bid to help reduce emissions. 

Image: City of London Corporation 


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