ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland
GATHERING - Harvesting Guidelines
|HARVESTING GUIDLINES | MOSSES | BULBS | WILD MUSHROOMS | GATHERING - main section|
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
More moss facts:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.