VAST areas of fungi are being wiped out in Scotland by overly keen foragers who are being urged to only pick what they need by the national forestry body.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has been finding inexperienced foragers are clearing whole areas, damaging fragile ecosystems and potentially harming forest dwelling animals who rely on fungi as a vital food source.

Scots are also being warned that some species of mushrooms and fungi are dangerously poisonous and can cause fatalities if eaten.

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Colin Edwards, FLS environment manager, has urged people to make sure the information they are relying on for which species to pick, and which to avoid, is reliable and up to date.

He said: “I’d urge people to make absolutely sure they know what they’re picking – before they head out - and pick only what they’re are going to use, being sure to leave some for others.

“We have seen an increase in fungi pickers in some of our woodlands such as Devilla in the south of Scotland and some picking is indiscriminate and strips the entire wood bare.

“I often see families out with bags full of fungi, and hundreds of fungi turned and left broken on site, because they’re not edible.

“It’s important to leave enough for everyone, including the wildlife who call the forest home and who rely on fungi as a food source.”

Edwards added people should remember the Scottish Outdoor Access Code when out foraging and "leave no trace".

FLS has said one of the best ways to find out about foraging is to ask an experienced forager, but there are lots of courses, workshops, expeditions and outings based around foraging skills, taking place throughout Scotland, especially during Foraging Fortnight in early September.

Other sound advice can be found online in the Scottish Wild Mushroom Code while NatureScot has a page dedicated to Scotland’s native fungi.

The website Scottish Fungi also contains everything foragers need to know about the mushrooms found in local woods.