ARCHIVE: Wildlife and plants
Protected plants and licensing
Within the EU, certain plants are protected by law. United Kingdom legislation for plant protection extends to land, including land covered by water, and territorial waters. The legislation prohibits anyone from intentionally picking, uprooting or destroying or selling wild plants which are listed on the appropriate Schedule.
The Act 1981
All wild plants included in schedule 8 are protected against unauthorised uprooting under Section 13 of the Act 1981. Even non-vascular plants (which have no roots) are protected, because uprooting is defined as removal from the site.
Plants Protected under the Act
Plants listed on Schedule 8 of the Act have special protection against picking, uprooting, destruction and sale. The Schedule is reviewed every five years, but currently it contains 107 vascular plants, 33 bryophytes, 26 lichens and 2 stoneworts.These include vascular plants, mosses, liverworts and hornworts, lichens and charophytes (stoneworts).
More details can be found on the the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.
Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations
Under the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994, it is an offence, with certain exceptions, to:
- Deliberately pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a wild plant of a European protected species;
- Keep, transport, sell or exchange, or offer for sale or exchange, any live or dead wild animal or plant of a European protected species, or any part of, or anything derived from such a wild animal or plant.
To avoid committing an offence, any contravention of the protected plant legislation will require a licence which can be considered for any of the following purposes:
- preserving public health, public safety or the environment
- preventing the spread of disease
- preventing serious damage to property, livestock, livestock feed, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber or to fisheries
Licences can only be issued if Natural England is satisfied that the activity meets one of the above purposes and is also satisfied of the following:
- that there is no satisfactory alternative, and
- that the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned
An application for a Licence in respect of European protected species can be obtained from Natural England.
Plants protected under Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations
- Creeping Marshwort
- Early Gentian
- Fen Orchid
- Floating leaved water Plantain
- Killarney Fern
- Lady's Slipper
- Shore Dock
- Slender Naiad
- Yellow Marsh Saxifrage
The full list of plants listed under international agreement within the Conservation Regulations can be found on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.
Page last modified: 21 November 2007
Page published: 1 July 2006