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EU threatens UK’s plant heritage

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Heuchera collection held by Mr and Mrs Fox, owners of a small nursery Plantsagogo

National Collection of heuchera held by Mr and Mrs Fox owners of a small nursery Plantsagogo

Proposed EU legislation is set to endanger many National Plant Collections and threaten the survival of many ornamental plants, Plant Heritage, the leading garden conservation charity has warned.

The difficulty rests in the proposed requirement for all plant varieties sold in Europe to be listed on an official register. Every variety would need to carry an officially recognised description and it would be illegal to sell an unregistered variety.  Currently only 2000 out of an estimated 77,000 cultivars sold in the UK are registered. Having to fund an administrative cost of up to £500 to register each variety before they could sell it could cause many small nurseries to close, many of which hold National Plant Collections.

Collection Holders carry out important work propagating, researching and educating the public about the specific genus they maintain together with its cultivars which can be thousands in number. They are Plant Heritage’s ‘custodians of biodiversity’.

“In many cases the conservation of cultivars is only possible on any level because of some form of commercial involvement on the part of the Collection Holder. As the legislation stands at present without the ability to sell plants their conservation activities could be curtailed,” said Plant Heritage Conservation Officer Mercy Morris.

Plant Heritage is urging people to lobby their local MEP to alert them to the risks of the current proposals and to recommend the exclusion of ornamentals from the regulations.

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