Foraging Guidelines

Photograph of hand with blackberries

Forage sustainably and responsibly, and make sure you stay safe and within the law.

Follow our responsible foraging guidelines when you're out and about.

Guidelines for responsible foraging

Seek permission from the landowner

On Woodand Trust sites we do not allow foraging for commercial purposes, only personal use.

On some of our sites we prefer you not to forage even for small amounts of fungi or other species. This is on sites that are important for conservation, or are habitats for rare or vulnerable species, or where there are problems with over-picking. These sites can be identified through signage on site, but please always check before setting out.

Find a wood to explore

Know what you're picking

Never consume a wild plant or fungus unless you are absolutely certain of its identification. It could be rare and protected, inedible or even deadly poisonous. Use reference books to identify. Fungi can be notoriously difficult to identify, so if you're unsure it's best to leave alone.

Only collect from plentiful populations

Only collect flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds where they are in abundance. For fungi, only take mushrooms that have opened their caps (so are likely to have dropped their spores). Do not collect small ‘button’ mushrooms.

Leave plenty behind for others and for wildlife

Wild food is vital for the survival of the UK’s wildlife and it is important to forage sustainably to ensure there is enough left for birds and others, and to allow the plant or fungus itself to produce seeds and spores that grow into the next generation. Please also be aware that you may not be the only person foraging.

Beware poisonous species

Make sure you know what you are collecting before setting out. 

Do not collect rare species

Only take plants and fungi where you are certain you know what they are. Take a good field guide to confirm species in the field and avoid confusion. Some species are protected by law, so know what not to collect. Ancient woodlands in particular can contain many rare species so take special care.

Minimise damage to the nearby habitat and species

Do not just collect everything you see and sort it out later, and take care not to trample down areas you are collecting from.

Take no more than those you plan to eat

Uprooting plants is harmful so pick leaves or berries with care and moderation and avoid damaging the plant’s roots.

Wild plants and the law

All wild plants are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It is illegal to dig up or remove a plant (including algae, lichens and fungi) from the land on which it is growing without permission from the landowner or occupier. Some species are specially protected against picking, uprooting, damage and sale. A list of these can be found on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

Further advice and information

Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
Natural England - The Countryside Code
Forestry Commission - New Forest Fungi Code Q and As
Scottish Natural Heritage - Scottish Wild Mushroom Code
British Mycological Society