UK group issues Nagoya Protocol statement

A Working Group formed by the RHS, representing UK horticulture organisations, has developed a joint statement on the Nagoya Protocol and its implementation in the UK.

RHS forms Nagoya Protocol working group. Image: Pixabay
RHS forms Nagoya Protocol working group. Image: Pixabay

The regulation, the implementation of which was completed in October 2015, is "changing the way we acquire and use plants obtained from other countries", says the group.

The protocol, signed in 2010, aims to ensure that the country of origin of a genetic resource - such as a plant or traditional knowledge about a plant's use - gets a fair share of the benefits of that resource when it is researched or developed.

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 sector to comply.

The Working Group Statement on Compliance said: "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 27 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.


The Working Group meets regularly and has identified 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?

The Working Group aims 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.

The group added: "Members of the Working Group and their organisations 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 for horticulture and appropriate advice.

"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."

Current Working Group 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
Scottish Rock Garden Club

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