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Greek curb on picking wild herbs

Greek curb on picking wild herbs.

Selling wild herbs, hand gathered from forests and hills, is something of a cottage industry on many of the Greek islands.

Holiday visitors can buy cheap packs of wild oregano, thyme and other herbs from street vendors who ply their trade on the islands' holiday resorts and beaches.

But new laws aimed at protecting wild plants will now make it illegal for locals to gather herbs to sell to holiday tourists.

Only herbs and plants picked for personal domestic use are permitted unless the gatherer has written permission from the Greek Forestry Division .

Forestry protection officials now forbid 'the eradication, cutting, gathering and transporting all kinds of aromatic, medicinal, dyeing, flavouring, apiculture, floriculture and ornamental plant seedlings, bushes and shrubs from public or private forests and woodland and grassland without prior permission.'

Similar laws now ban Greek island inhabitants from gathering more than two kilos of wild mushrooms or digging up forest litter without a license and mushroom pickers can only cut the exposed parts of the mushroom.

Greek islanders can still pick herbs for their own and for their family's use, but only up to 0.5 kilo per person per day and a total ban can be imposed in areas where there is risk of damage to biodiversity and the local ecosystem.

Regular walkers in the Greek islands will know the delight of the scent of wild herbs along mountain trails especially in the spring.

The move is to protect wild herbs that grow on many forested hills across the Greek islands. But it will mean that many locals will no longer be able to add to their income by gathering and selling bags of locally picked herbs to Greek island holiday visitors.

Forests cover more than a quarter of the total area of Greece, making it the fourth largest country in Europe for forest resources.

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