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Author Topic: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements  (Read 100034 times)

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #225 on: July 28, 2015, 05:46:41 PM »
I have no idea -  but I suggest contacting  the person given as a contact initially for  the event  Laura Robins  - on scienceadmin@rhs.org.uk  She should be able to help or tell you who can.

We  do hope to have an article from Robbie Blackhall-Miles  for The Rock Garden. 
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Tristan_He

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #226 on: September 23, 2015, 08:45:19 PM »
This isn't good. Email from Gothenburg Botanic Garden. Translation by Google translate so apologies to any Swedes reading this.

"We have decided not to sell the seeds via the connoisseur club anymore because , unfortunately, the demand has decreased in recent years . Furthermore, new EU rules on how the plant material may be used , a larger administrative work. You will still be able to buy some seeds collected in the garden of Botany store.

We naturally think that this is boring and to all our loyal customers , we would like to extend a warm thank you and hope to see you in the Botanical Garden .
Want to get access to an exclusive range of bulbs and tubers , we recommend you to join our Friends of the Friends of Botany . Every year you can order bulbs as a member selected by the Botanical Curator Henrik Zetterlund"

Not sure whether the EU rules or decline in demand are primarily at fault here - new rules are sometimes a convenient excuse.

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #227 on: September 23, 2015, 09:06:48 PM »
I have yet to discover exactly, but I suspect that the  regulations referred to may relate to the  various protocols  about  Botanic Gardens being restricted in being able to share seed and plants with "outsiders"  who might use them for commercial gain. This would contravene rules that any commercial benefit from wild origin seeds and plants must be shared with the country of origin.

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Hillview croconut

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #228 on: September 24, 2015, 11:36:25 AM »
Game, set and match  .... the suits should be pretty pleased with themselves.

I really can't see the connection between distributing a small number of seeds to interested enthusiasts and  a significant threat to any country's biodiversity (when compared to habitat loss and destructive agricultural practices). In fact the opposite is probably the case.

As to the question of renumerating the country of origin.  That's a bit of a long bow when the seeds in question come from plants that are several generations removed. Also the claim that there would be serious money involved in this process is almost laughable.  It would probably cost more to administrate the recover of funds than the value of the funds themselves.

But hey,  that's not the purpose of these conventions ..... their main purpose is to put a dead hand on anyone or any activity that dares challenge ownership.

Cheers,  (a disgruntled) Marcus

« Last Edit: September 24, 2015, 11:38:38 AM by Hillview croconut »

Parsla

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #229 on: September 24, 2015, 12:57:09 PM »
Well said Marcus,

Perhaps the worst thing is that by restricting distribution to enthusiastic gardeners, many interesting species in threatened habitats will simply disappear - effectively into extinction.

It's another (terribly) sad reflection on the effect power brokers are bringing to bear on the world we live in, particularly our natural environment.
Certainly wipes out any competition.

Jacqui.

Tristan_He

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #230 on: September 24, 2015, 08:33:02 PM »
@ Marcus and Jacqui - I don't think this is about gardeners, or even about the 'horticultural industry'. It's more about pharmaceuticals. The idea is that if developing countries are allowed to share in the profits from pharmaceuticals and other good things developed from biodiversity, then they have more incentive to conserve their natural habitats and the species in them.

It's a good principle. Problem is that I don't see it being workable in practice, for all kinds of reasons, both related to the complexity of nature and to the way that business is very good at playing the system.

Meanwhile, those most likely to follow rules (e.g. botanic gardens) do so even when there is perhaps no need to (is there really a risk that Gothenburg Botanic Garden would be prosecuted by a foreign government for running a seed exchange)? By and large the police have better things to do than trawl through seed lists on the off chance that something being circulated might be off limits under some convention.

As for plants being conserved in gardens, who are we really kidding? Sure, quite a few plant species grown in gardens are threatened in one way or another. But how many of the specimens we grow will ever be planted out into the wild as part of a restoration programme? What precautions do we take to prevent hybridisation and maintain genetic diversity? I've no doubt there are a few examples where species have been re-established into the wild from gardens, but overwhelmingly we grow plants in gardens because we like them. In many cases they don't survive for anything like as long in the garden as in the wild, either. Gardening is a fabulous thing and I'll defend it all day long, but let's not pretend it is the answer to plant conservation.

Tim Ingram

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #231 on: September 24, 2015, 09:39:35 PM »
I would agree with Tristan on that - it's more the sense of an over-riding bureaucracy inhibiting the individual which galls, but on the whole there are still quite plentiful sources of seed from collectors and the ability to collect seed from the plants you grow yourself and obtain from friends, which is the basis of a specialist society like the SRGC.

I wrote this piece in October 2012 based on an article in the AGS Bulletin back in 1934 re. Lloydia serotina. That sense of being custodians of plants is strong but in reality it is the environments they grow in that have to be conserved. The point about gardening is that it heightens a knowledge and understanding of ecology and the natural ways populations of plants persist, even if it is easy to become pessimistic about this. This is why the specialist garden societies and nurseries are so important for us individually and are more than worth supporting.

*****

One of the most fascinating articles published in the early Bulletins was a survey of the ‘Alpine Plants of the Snowdon Range’ by Norman Woodhead (from the University College of Bangor). Naturalists and botanists have not surprisingly found Snowdonia a place of great interest for centuries, and a recent book on ‘The Plant Life of Snowdonia’ (edited by Peter Rhind and David Evans) summarises this beautifully. The undoubted ‘Queen of Snowdon’ is the little lily Lloydia serotina, even though only known to a few, and it caused a kerfuffle in these early days of the Alpine Garden Society, which rare and localised plants have always been likely to do, but perhaps not so seriously. Lloydia is one of the most rare and localised of British plants, found on just a few cliffs in Snowdonia. Its nearest relatives are in the Alps and it is thought to have survived as a relict species, either in refuges free of ice in the last Ice Age, or by following the retreating ice as temperatures warmed. There is a danger in being rare and special and sad to say members of the AGS were brought to task for uprooting bulbs of Lloydia serotina at a Nature Lovers Conference in September 1934. The AGS obviously abhorred such an incident, but what also comes across is a sense of the Society being stung by the criticism, which must have related to the feeling of many gardeners that they also were custodians of plants. The final sentence of the AGS reply was: ‘As the driving force of the Conservation Board and the AGS is the love of plants, cannot a unity of action be established between them towards the furtherance of its demonstration?’ Here is the age old dilemma of arguing from the specific to the general - it can’t be done and each case has to be argued on its own merits.

Nowadays the reaction to such an incident would be very strong and many more people would probably be aware of the ‘Snowdon Lily’. Then, the final and wisest words came from Prof. D. Thoday, Professor of Botany at Bangor, who made the simple statement that Lloydia had survived for thousands of years in its natural home and was unlikely to do so for more than a few decades in cultivation, even at a Botanic Garden. Conservationists would always say that it is the environment that should be protected, but ironically it could be that this little lily is more at risk from rock climbers who would only see it as another tuft of grass. So a sophisticated and balanced view of plants and the environment is most likely to come from the awareness that gardening brings, even when it is such extreme and negative cases that catch the headlines.

(15 October 2012)

http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/discussion/miscellaneous/Random+Nuggets+from+the+Bulletin/16872/
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Hillview croconut

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #232 on: September 25, 2015, 12:02:02 AM »
Tristan, I understand the arguments but I think (respectively) that your view is to some extent a little naivè. If it was just about stopping nasty pharmaceutical companies from ripping off 3rd world countries then why aren't there provisions  to exempt or at least accomodate specialist horticulture. There ain't. In fact the silly record keeping requirements have probably forced Gotenburg to their decision.

Also these protocols and conventions are supposed to be about protection of biodiversity. Setting up laws to aid commercial arrangements between multinationals and governments under their guise seems to me to be a little off target. These protocols' main focus should be loss of habitat and protection of species in situ. Not making criminals out of botanical institutes and collectors. Hey, but that would require some real decision-making and some hard choices. Easier to pass the parcel.

As to the question of whether species could ever be re-established in the wild? Well that's a complex question which I don't intend to go into here but I will make one observation. If you think it's not possible then you had better let the people at the Kew Millenium Seed Bank know that they are on the wrong track and it's all a waste of time.

I want to see genuine attempts by governments to protect their biodiversity by managing local populations and putting in place protective mechanisms. Pharmaceuticals are another issue altogether.

Cheers, Marcus

PS I think you may have miss-read what Parsla and myself were batting on about. We are not claiming that gardening can save the planet. We are saying that focussing on trivial and second order issues is useless and unnecessarily damaging especially when it avoids (very neatly) the important issues around biodiversity protection.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 10:39:23 AM by Hillview croconut »

Tristan_He

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #233 on: September 25, 2015, 08:46:41 PM »
Marcus,

These 'silly record keeping requirements' are really very standard in all walks of life (e.g. digital image rights). They really are not that onerous, and any botanic garden or serious collection is likely to be keeping them anyway. Older specimens, where these details are more likely to have been lost, are exempt anyway. There was a lot of similar concern when the Freedom of Information Act came in in Britain. In reality I think it's been a good thing that has forced government to sharpen up its act and shine a light on some darker recesses. Whitehall whitewashes are less easy these days.

Will this really stop wild plant collecting? That depends what you mean. All governments are still able to license collecting for any purpose. If you mean seed collecting, I don't think so, nor should it. If you mean digging up of plants from the wild, for whatever purpose, then I hope so.  Basically I think it's like asking someone from seed or cuttings from their garden, rather than just assuming the right to take them. It's not new either - animal collectors like Gerald Durrell were collecting things under license from various countries half a century ago.

As to habitat protection, of course I agree 100%. It's not just (or even mainly) about legislation either, but also about resourcing it. Nature reserves and biodiversity action plans are one thing but if they aren't correctly managed and funded, they have much less impact. In that context the recession is a bad thing, because certain departments are protected from cuts, whilst others (including environment) get cuts of 40% and more. Personally I'd rather see an international convention in which countries pledged to devote 1% of their GDP to conservation of ecosystems.

I think the seed bank is a good thing. But mainly because it acts as a hub for conservation projects and knowledge transfer, not because of the ex situ conservation work.

Best, Tristan

Dionysia

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #234 on: September 25, 2015, 11:29:57 PM »
Although the Nagoya Protocol was a consideration, the main reason the Gothenburg Connoiseur Club is folding is that the person who ran it for 25 years is retiring and nobody else wants to take over. It has also not been making any money particularly since being converted to web based.
Paul
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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #235 on: September 25, 2015, 11:49:51 PM »
Harking back to your first comment Tristan,

If it was about incentives to conserve habitat it would be admirable, but it seems not. And wild populations end up as goat fodder or simply built over in many cases. Many lessons to be learnt from recent history.

Nobody is talking about saving the world, but I'm afraid that if seed collecting and distribution becomes too difficult it will not be possible to maintain many of the lovely treasures we see on these pages.

A zoo of sorts? Well, yes. But preferable to extinction for those who love them.

And seemingly idiotic restrictions ARE making seed collecting more difficult in some instances, as we in  melbourne  recently heard in a delightful presentation by Chris and Basak Gardner, authors of Flora of the Silk Road.

For my part, I am extremely appreciative of collectors like Arisaema who put back into the system, e.g Lilium henricii.


Tristan_He

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #236 on: September 26, 2015, 10:55:47 AM »
Hi Parsla,

The CBD and subsequent international legislation certainly is intended as an incentive to conserve both habitats and species. You can certainly question its effectiveness, but it does aim to save the world (or words to that effect). What lessons do you think we should learn from recent history?

A zoo of sorts? For me that is terrifying - hundreds or even thousands of zombie species, extinct in the wild, struggling to survive in a few botanic gardens. Most will perish within a couple of decades, I suspect. If their habitat genuinely has been destroyed, then there is no way back (overgrazing is different as this may wipe out some species but many survive in the seed bank, in sheltered crevices or as small, stunted plants).

In terms of restrictions - if we want to save or protect something, that probably means some sort of restrictions. Some of these are really important (I would argue that better paperwork has helped to stimulate laboratory propagation of many orchids, helping protect wild populations from overexploitation). How these are designed to achieve a balance between effectiveness and proportionality is key. That all depends on how signatories implement the restrictions. If I were running a seed exchange I would tend to let sleeping dogs lie.

I too am very appreciative of Arisema and others' efforts, and ordered from him this list this spring. But like most gardeners, my contribution from his seed will be the challenge of growing them, the joy of flowering them, and the warm glow of sharing them. Hopefully they will become established in clutivation. But I have no expectation of any of them being part of a conservation programme.

Chris Chadwell says something very interesting on his blog, which I shall quote here:
'Regardless of current regulations... gardeners have never had the right to attempt to grow a particular species (no matter how ornamental) in their private or even 'botanic' gardens, at the expense of populations in the wild'.

For me, small scale seed collections of seed (relative to the overall size of the population) come into the category of sustainable exploitation. But they are exploitation of wild populations nonetheless, and for future conservation it would probably be better if a system were in place where we, the gardeners, could pay a bit extra for this seed to countries like Nepal to help protect these beautiful places from goats and deforestation. God knows, they need the money.

Best, Tristan
« Last Edit: March 16, 2016, 09:52:28 PM by Tristan_He »

Hillview croconut

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #237 on: September 26, 2015, 01:52:10 PM »
Tristan, again you appear (deliberately?) to misunderstand Parsla's point. She is NOT saying that collection of wild seed should be allowed because it stands as a legitimate conservation strategy. Please give the correspondent the courtesy of reading their contribution instead of bulldozing over them.

There is no evidence that I have personally seen that supports your contention that international and regional conventions have done anything meaningful to prevent habitat loss or species destruction. Can you outline the specific mechanisms  by which this is going to be achieved?

You also ask the question what recent historical examples? Oh come on they are all around you if you care to look. Flip a few pages back on this thread and you will discover the sad tale of Fritillaria conica, a Red Book listed species. If you want more I will gladly provide them.

As to your belief that licencing is a real option may I suggest you read Michael Wickenden's articles on the subject.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 01:54:28 PM by Hillview croconut »

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #238 on: March 16, 2016, 12:59:15 PM »
Moving from seed  to plants : https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160315131906.htm

"Trade in rare plants on social media must be monitored
People buying rare plants through social media are placing species at risk of extinction"

Date:
    March 15, 2016
Source:
    University of Kent
Summary:
    Trade in rare plants on social media must be monitored, say experts. People buying rare plants through social media are placing species at risk of extinction, suggests a new study that represents the first large-scale global survey of wildlife trade via a social-media site, using the orchid trade as a case study.

More : http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uok-tir031516.php
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Tim Ingram

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #239 on: March 16, 2016, 01:35:45 PM »
Interesting to see that quote from Chris Chadwell above that Tristan refers too after that discussion that arose from a different thread on the BBC article. I think that shows that there is a moral background to obtaining and growing plants which is held perfectly well by many(most) individuals as well as instituted by law and politics. For the specialist plant societies their own seed exchanges must be fundamental in maintaining the diversity of plants in gardens, and preventing those of us who do garden from the sense of exploiting natural populations. Social media must be quite a factor but it can work to advantage by making dubious and, conversely, legitimate sources of plants highlighted quickly - eg: in a different way, snowdrops! There has been plenty of exploitation of plants before the advent of social media :(.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

 


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