Forestry re issues restrictions on picking wild herbs to prevent extinction

Last week the forestry service of Chania issued another notice reminding the public of the restrictions placed on gathering wild herbs.

The order, originally issued in June 2013, imposed a five-year ban on the collection of a variety of wild herbs which have been harvested to near-extinction. The prohibition on harvesting wild herbs applied to sage, marjoram, oregano, malotira and sideritis used for making Cretan mountain tea, and it makes illegal the collection of any of these herbs in protected Natura areas. In other areas, outside Natura, wild herb harvesting is only permitted with forestry department approval. Special permits are required for commercial purposes and collection of up to 500 grams of herbs is allowed “for personal use”. Permits can be obtained by applying to the Forestry Department in Chania by 30 June 2015. Aplication forms can be downloaded from the Region of Crete website

There is a total ban on collecting, cutting digging up or uprooting Cretan dittany or dictamos, a therapeutic plant prized since antiquity that is exclusive to the island. “The mass collection of these aromatic plants, for purposes of trade, threatens them with extinction,” the forestry department said.

The need to reissue the restriction order was made necessary by the increased interest of the public in the commercial use of wild herbs, which are often completely uprooted during harvesting.

The Forestry Department asks the public that when collecting herbs for personal use outside Natura designated areas, to make use scissors and avoid snipping plants in bloom.

Natura 2000 areas in green
Natura 2000 areas in green

The Forestry Department reminds that there are very severe penalties for those who destroy Cretan biodiversity by illegally and irresponsibly collecting wild herbs

The herb-based Cretan diet has long been considered one of the healthiest in the Mediterranean basin and a contributing factor to the islanders’ traditional longevity