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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland

GATHERING - Harvesting Guidelines

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The Scottish Moss Collection Code

This guidance was created by a group representing the interests of conservation organisations, land managers and moss harvesters and buyers. The creation of the guidance was funded by Scottish Enterprise, the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Forestry Trust.

General harvesting guidelines

The key guidelines are available as an A5 leaflet (see opposite). Or you can read the guidelines text here.

Guidelines for commercial harvesters

There is a more detailed version of the guidelines for commercial harvesters.

More moss facts:

Conservation

Scotland is a biodiversity hotspot for mosses, with 87% of the UK's moss species and 60% of Europe's moss species, and as much as 5% of the world's mosses. Scotland is particularly important for peat bogs, or mires.

Identifying mosses

The British Bryological Society provides a useful web page to tell you how to start learning to identify mosses and other bryophytes, and a list of recommended books.

Scottish Natural Heritage's 'Naturally Scottish' series includes an excellent booklet on 'Mosses and Liverworts': visit SNH's website to buy the booklet or click here to view the booklet online.

Legalities of moss harvesting

ForestHarvest's Legal and access issues section provides information about the legal situation concerning both domestic and commercial harvesting of wild products in Scotland, including moss.

There is also EU legislation which impinges on moss harvesting - see COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (PDF file 191KB), Article 14 (p.10) and Annex V (p.62).

Moss products

Historically, moss has had many uses - as insulation for buildings, caulking for boats, a multi-purpose packing material, and for surgical dressings. It has even been used as famine food. More on moss in the ForestHarvest species directory.

Moss is still gathered commercially in Scotland. Today most moss is used for lining hanging baskets. If you want to reduce your own, or your business's, use of moss, here are some tips from Plantlife on alternatives to moss for hanging baskets.

Photo - moss
The Scottish Moss Collection Code is available as an A5 leaflet:
Thumbnail image of the Scottish Moss Collection Code leaflet - click on the image to view a larger version

Download the Scottish Moss Collection Code leaflet (PDF file 182KB)

Copies of the leaflet are available from:

Dr Dave Genney
Scottish Natural Heritage
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road
Inverness
IV3 8NW

Tel: 01463 725253

Or click here to email Dave Genney


Moss links

A 2006 study on Scotland's moss harvest highlighted the ongoing need for both research and best practice guidelines in the Scottish moss industry, and the continuing problem of illegal harvesting

Epiphytes and Forest Management - research from the Pacific Northwest, USA

Living with Mosses - more from Oregon State University

BRYONET-L - international specialist e-group about mosses and other bryophytes. To join, email Janice Glime with your email address, name, and country: click here to email Janice Glime.

Sphagnum moss is one of the species groups targeted for special attention by Reforesting Scotland's Sustainable Forest Harvest project.

This guidance was created by a group representing the interests of conservation organisations, land managers and moss harvesters and buyers.

The creation of the guidance was funded by Scottish Enterprise, the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Forestry Trust.

logos of the funders of the Scottish Moss Code: Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, the Scottish Forestry Trust and Scottish Enterprise