The forestry department on Friday reminded the public that the use of tools for mushroom picking is prohibited, since it damages the ecosystem.
In a written statement, the department said the identification of mushrooms should be done after careful observation by pickers who are able to identify edible species from the poisonous ones.
People should only remove the organic matter from the part above the ground using a knife and reposition any soil or other matter that has been moved, the announcement explained.
“Many people, in their attempt to be more efficient, use tools, mainly rakes, to remove organic matter that covers the mushrooms.
“This practice is explicitly prohibited by the Forest Law,” the department said.
In case of conviction, the crime carries a prison sentence of up to one year in jail, or a fine of up to €5,000, or both sentences combined.
According to the department, “the sweeping removal of the organic mass causes damage to the forest ecosystem as it kills small mushrooms that are going to germinate, as well as microorganisms and plants in the area, while at the same time, it aesthetically degrades the forest”.
Finding and collecting mushrooms must be done with care and respect for nature.
Only the mature fruit bodies that have already given out their spores for reproduction should be collected; the young, unripe mushrooms should be left intact, the department added.
The forestry department appealed to the public to apply good practices and report violations to the nearest forest station.
In Cyprus, some species of mushrooms appear for short periods of time at the highest altitudes, after strong rainfalls that preserve humidity of organic matter for at least 15 to 20 days.
Various types of edible mushroom can be found and collected from the forests around the island.
The red mushroom Lactarius deliciosus is probably the most famous of them. Other mushroom species harvested are the white mushroom Russula delica and Tricholoma caligatum.