You regularly come across them in mushroom country too: the people who believe they know tricks that help nature enormously. For instance, there is a whole herd of people who “believe” that you should not pick mushrooms but cut them off with a knife. There was then a whole scientific study on it, which ‘proved’ that in the short term it doesn’t matter. However, this research is referred to by ‘carvers’ to justify this habit, which is not how it works.
First, however, I am going to address an argument that you should pick ‘no or few mushrooms’ because otherwise the animals would have nothing to eat and you would ‘upset the balance’.
No, it is not ‘in the balance’. First, it is terribly condescending towards animals to say that they are less able to hunt than humans. Secondly, the decline in those animal and insect populations is not due to game picking, but rather the lack of game picking. The more mushrooms are picked the more they spread and the more will grow. In a situation with a sharply declining animal and insect population, your approach is precisely a death sentence for the mushroom population and thus also a death sentence for those bunnies. Nature does not need your ‘management’, nature has worked without ‘management’ for 500 million years. Not picking mushrooms is an insult to the forest. The diversity of mushrooms is much, much greater in picking countries like Poland. Stop this nonsense!
Besides, with that severely reduced animal and insect population, logically speaking, there are mushrooms enough for each! But that mushroom population is also declining, but with good picking policies (picking as much as possible), hopefully that process can be slowed down.
Picking or cutting?
OK, so we have a study that has ‘demonstrated’ that the direct harm to mycelia from a made-up habit ‘cutting is better’ does not exist, so the motive for the habit can go straight into the bin. It is insane behaviour, because the definition of insane behaviour is behaviour that does nothing and exists for no reason. But of course it does not stop there. Because it has only looked at what the DIRECT damage is to the mycelium, which is negligible. However, it has not looked at:
*What if picking gives the mycelium a signal to start producing a new mushroom and thus leaving the base of the mushroom in place interferes with the growth of new mushrooms?
*What if the cannibalising effect of having to eat its own flesh causes degradation of DNA as cannibalism has been shown to do elsewhere?
*Gerard Koopman’s idea that leaving rotting fruits on trees en masse has no consequence for the trees is hugely short-sighted: fruits exist to spread seeds, and by exposing those seeds to mould and air you sabotage the tree’s chances of survival, and so too with mushrooms.
*There is simply no logical reasoning at all: where trees still have resin against fungal invasions, mycelia do not; leaving a foot with transport channels to the mycelium is just a terribly stupid idea.
Pick, then. And as many as possible. And stop badgering the declining animal population.