The future of plants from overseas

A Horticultural Sector Working Group, formed by the RHS, has issued a statement regarding the Nagoya Protocol 

Representing a range of organisations across the horticulture sector, the Working Group has developed a joint statement on the Nagoya Protocol, which is changing the way we acquire and use plants collected from other countries. In the statement the Working Group outlines the issues facing the sector that arise from the regulation and the work they are doing to enable the UK sector to comply.


What is the Nagoya Protocol?

Impatiens ‘Ray of Hope’

The Nagoya Protocol is legislation regarding how wild-collected plants make their way into horticulture. It does not ban the collection of plants from the wild, however provides a framework on how plant material is obtained so that both parties (the collector and the source country) gain from any benefits arising from that collection.

For example, Impatiens ‘Ray of Hope’ (pictured) is an example of a hybrid raised with an agreement to return a portion of the revenue back to the country of origin of one of the parents, the Seychelles.

Members of the Working Group are committed to helping achieve the objectives of the Nagoya Protocol through compliance with its supporting EU legislation and by continuing to develop best practice guidance and appropriate advice. 

Find out more about the Protocol from our RHS Science blog.

The statement of compliance

Recent changes in the law are set to affect the way new plants collected from other countries after 12 October 2014 are introduced and used. On 27th July 2015, the RHS held a meeting for the horticulture sector to be briefed on and discuss the EU Regulation implementing the Nagoya Protocol. More than 50 people attended, with representatives from national and government bodies, plant societies, public gardens and specialist nurseries as well as plant breeders, plant collectors, plant agents and trade associations.  

There was a realisation that the administrative burden arising from the EU Regulation could have a distinct impact on a sector that does not have the resources to absorb it. As a result, there is a real prospect of the sector turning away from introducing and utilising new plants, not because the Nagoya Protocol prevents it, but due to the requirements for compliance and uncertainties over the status of plants that may arise in the future. This could, in turn, have a negative effect on both commercial and non-commercial horticulture including academic research and plant conservation.

It was agreed that further work is needed to explore the practical implications of the EU Regulation. As a result, the horticultural sector Nagoya Protocol Working Group was established to:
1.   Promote awareness of the regulations among organisations and individuals engaged in horticulture and plant conservation 
2.   Develop a common approach to compliance through development of best practice.

More about the Working Group

The Working Group meets regularly and has identified key issues for the development of guidance and best practice. These issues are:

Plant collecting: implications for current activity and the threats to conservation and other objectives?

Sharing benefits from horticulture: How is this evaluated and managed? 

Due diligence: what is required and how can it be achieved by plant collectors and horticulturists? 

‘Utilisation’: What would be considered ‘in scope’ of Nagoya in horticulture and how does it relate to commercialisation?

They aim to consult with and involve the horticultural sector outside of its members in the process and invites input from all those in the sector that are affected by the legislation. It will also act as a channel of communication with the UK regulatory bodies.

Members will integrate the principles and spirit of the Nagoya Protocol into their policies and practices wherever relevant, and will cooperate with the governmental and inter-governmental bodies charged with implementing it.

The Working Group is made up of the following members: Alpine Garden Society; Australasian Plant Society; Bedgebury, The National Pinetum & Westonbirt, The National Arboretum; Fossil Plants; Horticultural Trades Association; National Trust; Plants for Europe Limited; Plant Heritage; Plant Network; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Royal Horticultural Society; RHS Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group; and Scottish Rock Garden Club. 


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.