Foraging & The Law

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1. The Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981, states that it is an offence to uproot any plants from any land without permission from the landowner. The Act Also lists some protected plant species which must not be picked or destroyed by anyone including the landowner.

2. Wild plants that are not listed as protected species under the WCA can be picked. If the land doesn’t belong to you then it would ordinarily be theft to take something from another’s land but in the case of wild plants there is an exception under the Theft Act 1968 for mushrooms or plants growing wild on land. A person may take away fruit, flowers, foliage and fungi without committing an offence – unless it is done with the intention of selling them, or for other reward.

3. Another piece of important legislation is the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) 2001, which gives people the right to roam on open countryside which is defined as mountain, moor, downland and heath and registered commons. It also includes land that has been voluntarily opened up by a landowner – the Forestry Commission is an example of one such volunteer. Once on access land, the public can enjoy it for ‘open air recreation’ which CROW does not define. However, the harvesting of any wild plant parts on land which has been opened up under CROW is forbidden.