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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland

GATHERING - Harvesting Guidelines


Text of the Scottish Moss Collection Code leaflet:

The countryside is a working environment. Please be aware of your own safety and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It is an offence to uproot any wild plant without the permission of the landowner, therefore, in accordance with the law and as a matter of courtesy, make sure you receive permission before collecting moss. Commercial harvesting requires an agreement with the landowner.

Scotland is very important for mosses, having many rare species and more than 60% of European moss species. As there are many rare mosses, which are often difficult to identify, the guidelines ask you only to harvest particular types of species from habitats where there are less likely to be rare species. It is your responsibility to ensure that rare species are not being harvested. If you are in any doubt please seek expert help. You can help to maintain the natural environment by respecting these guidelines and only taking what you need.

Please consider the points below when collecting moss. Please also contact the land manager who will help you to choose a suitable place. If you see evidence that other harvesters have not been following these guidelines, please report it to your local Police and ask to speak to the Wildlife Crime Officer.

Where to collect

Mosses can be gathered from conifer plantations.
Please avoid places where rare mosses are most likely to be found, these are:

  • Bogs, stream sides, springs, rock outcrops, walls, tree trunks, and dead wood
  • Areas designated for nature conservation
  • Native woodlands (including pinewoods)
  • Areas that appear to have been harvested recently
How to collect

Mosses should be collected by hand.

Leave patches of moss so that it can re-grow, only collecting half of what is present.

Please do not collect from the same patch for at least 5 years, this will allow time for the moss to recover.

What to collect

Mosses that form a mat on the ground (weft forming mosses) are least vulnerable, such as: Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, and Pseudosceropdium purum (click on the name for an image of each species - images are copyright Scottish Natural Heritage).

It is illegal to collect certain mosses which are protected by law.

More information

To find out more (including more detailed guidance for commercial harvesting) go back to the main Scottish Moss Code page.


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

Tel: 01463 725253

Or click here to email Dave Genney

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