Decorating Christmas nativity scenes with foraged moss could bring fines of up €200,000 in Spain

THERE is little more harmless than a Christmas nativity scene showing baby Jesus in a bed of hay at the local church.

But top environmental lawyer Agustin Bocos has warned of laws prohibiting the harvest of moss from Spanish woodlands, a common element of nativity scenes or Belens as they are known in Spain.

According to Bocos, ‘the forest regulations of 1962 consider a serious infraction for the cutting or tearing of the moss from the mountainside’.

The expert said that fines for removing protected species from woodland areas range from ‘€1,000-100,000’ and up to ‘€200,000’ if harvested from a protected area.

Moss is considered a ‘cornerstone’ of woodland ecosystems, as they form a lawyer that absorbs water, prevents soil erosion, captures nitrogen from the air and serves as a shelter for microorganisms that make the soil fertile.

The lawyer admitted however there exist ‘little means’ for authorities to catch suspected criminals at present.

He suggested flower arrangers and decorators use ‘synthetic moss’ or other materials for making nativity scenes.

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