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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland

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Gathering NTFPs - Legal issues

The gathering of non-timber forest products in Scotland, whether for domestic or commercial use, is directly and indirectly regulated by several pieces of legislation.

The most relevant legislative issues are land access and our treatment of wild plants and animals.

Our right to the land

Our right to cross other people's land, and our freedom to undertake specific activities on that land, is governed by a number of laws. The situation changed with the introduction of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, and the accompanying Scottish Outdoor Access Code [PDF file].

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Treatment of wild plants and animals

What we can and cannot do with wild plants and animals is strictly governed by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and subsequent amendments. This Act also specifies which species are protected.

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Gun law

Our right to carry guns is very carefully controlled, and infringements are subject to severe penalties. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 made a number of changes that affect legislation on firearms, including air guns.

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Birch bark
Wildlife crime in Scotland

There is growing concern over wildlife crime. Infringements range from illegal egg collection and poaching to wholesale habitat destruction and uprooting of plants on other people's land.

Recorded cases include large-scale destruction of bogs in South Lanarkshire for the Sphagnum moss trade, and uprooting of woodland wildflower bulbs such as snowdrops and bluebells. These operations are sometiumes conducted by roving criminal gangs. (For guidance on good practice, see the Scottish Moss Collection Code and the Scottish Bulb Collection Code.)

The Government is becoming increasingly aware of the problems caused by such criminals, and moves are afoot to toughen up the laws and penalties.

See the Partnership for action against wildlife crime and DEFRA.