Code of Conduct

Responsible Collecting of Fungi for Research and Educational Purposes

General Guidelines

  • Always seek the landowner's or site manager's permission before you enter land, and explain the purpose of your visit.
  • Follow the Countryside Code
  • Avoid causing any damage or disturbance to other organisms or habitats.
  • Avoid removing dead wood unless this is necessary to identify a fungus. 
  • Take a reputable field guide with you and try to identify as many fungi as you can in situ.
  • Ancient woodlands may contain a rich variety of fungi including rare species. Particular care should be taken when collecting from these sites.
  • Fungi are enjoyed by many people because of their beauty and intrigue. For this reason you should take care to minimise the visual effects of field study and collection.

Guidelines for Scientific Collecting

  • It is often necessary to collect for identification purposes. The identification and study of fungi is important to further our knowledge of them and to ensure their future survival.
  • Collect the minimum amount of material or number of specimens required for a proper description and reliable identification.
  • Record accurately the localities and habitat data for all species.
  • Always offer the results of your survey to the landowner or manager and explain the significance of what you have found.
  • Supply information to local and national databases and retain 'voucher specimens' for deposit in fungarium collections.

Advice for leaders involved in fungal educational activities

  • Follow the guidelines for scientific collecting.
  • Always seek the landowner’s permission, giving the proposed date, start and finish times, the proposed area to be visited, and the estimated number of people involved.                                         
  • Organise the event to minimise both the number of fungi picked and the risk of picking rare species. Avoid repetitive picking and make sure everyone knows how to collect responsibly to minimise the amount discarded at the end of the day.
  • Try to return discarded material to the collection site.
  • Provide a short, simple report for the landowner or manager, listing the fungi found and giving advice on the protection and management of sites where rarities or conservation priority species were found.

Advice for Landowners & Managers

  • Recording and studying fungi is generally to be welcomed and encouraged, although you may wish to set limits on the number of visits or the number of people.
  • If your property falls wholly or partly within a nature reserve, SSSI or other protected area, contact the relevant authority for advice, and if necessary, written consent before approving access.
  • If you allow collection for consumption on your land you may want to issue seasonal permits to allow the situation to be reviewed annually.
  • If you suspect unauthorised commercial collection of fungi on your land, please report it.
  • Refer to the ‘Advice for Leaders’ above to ensure good practice by third parties whilst invited onto your land.


Statement on foraging

  • The Society believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the fleeting beauty of fungi undisturbed in the wild.
  • The Society is aware of the current lack of scientific rigour relating to the perceived impacts of foraging on fungal populations and their associated dependant organisms, and will encourage robust research to help provide the evidence required for informed decision making.
  • In the absence of proven scientific evidence, the Society recommends the precautionary principle be applied to sites that are heavily foraged and/or support known important fungal populations.
  • The Society recommends that foraging be actively discouraged on land designated for its wildlife conservation interest. This includes National Nature Reserves (NNR), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), local nature reserves and other protected areas.


Considerations when cultivating mushrooms

  • As with plant pollen, fungal spores can be allergens so avoid inhalation. Ensure that growth is in well-ventilated places. Strains are sometimes available that produce few spores.
  • Outdoor cultivation should only be on sites where permission has been obtained, e.g. your own personal garden.
  • Outdoor cultivation of non-native species should be avoided. It is important not to run the risk of introducing invasive species. (The problems with invasive plants such as Himalaya balsam and Japanese knotweed are well known. Invasive fungi cause problems too, e.g. Amanita phalloides in California.)
  • Outdoor cultivation of non-native strains of native species should be avoided. This is important because rare species, such as Hericium species, often live in small isolated populations with a narrow gene pool, which might be threatened by introduction genotypes from other countries. Clearly, it is important to know the provenance of cultivated species to avoid this problem.
  • Know the legalities. Note that different legislations will apply in different countries. However, it is not just about the law: it is about good practice and responsibility.