"Plant hunting is a critically endangered species" - Tom Mitchell takes on the conservation establishment.

A nursery owner is set to speak out against a threat to the plant hunting tradition.

At the new Gardens Illustrated Festival, taking place in Malmesbury from 17 – 18 April 2015, Tom Mitchell, contemporary plant hunter and proprietor of specialist nursery Evolution Plants, will deliver a controversial talk (on 18 April) which takes on the conservation establishment and highlights plant hunting is threatened with extinction by a new international treaty – the Nagoya Protocol – which entered into European law in October 2014.

This new law places the onus on end users of ‘genetic resources’ – i.e. individual gardeners – to ensure that the plants growing in their gardens were obtained in compliance with the Nagoya Protocol and its parent treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Very few of the plants introduced to cultivation since the CBD was signed in 1992 comply, resulting in the potentially absurd outcome of rendering numerous private gardens, National Plant Collections and flower show exhibits illegal.

In his lecture Mitchell explains the background to the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol, and shows how they have failed to achieve any of their conservation goals and illustrates, with examples from his own plant hunting travels in Europe and Asia, both how private plant hunting benefits biodiversity conservation and how the CBD actively hinders it.

Mitchell will speak out for gardeners, amateur enthusiasts and lovers of biodiversity and seeks to alert a wider audience to the imminent risk that the flow of exciting new plants into our gardens is about to stop, unless action is taken urgently.

Mitchell said: "Britain’s gardens are celebrated around the world, not just for their beauty, but also for the huge variety of plants, edible and ornamental, that will grow successfully in a climate that we gardeners love to moan about.

"Most of the plants that we now cultivate and consume were introduced by explorers and plant hunters of the past. Botanic gardens; entrepreneurial collectors, motivated by profit and typically funded by wealthy private individuals; and self-funded amateur enthusiasts have all contributed."

He added: "The new law also threatens the critically important conservation work that private plant collectors undertake, at their own risk and expense."

The talk will take place between 5.30pm and 6.30pm on Saturday 18 April. Further details about the festival and information on booking tickets can be found at: http://gardensillustrated.seetickets.com/event/gardens-illustrated-festival/malmesbury/820131/

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