Growing protected plants

Queensland’s protected plants regulatory framework provides a simple and effective framework that allows the Queensland Government to focus on addressing the impacts of high risk activities on the conservation of Queensland’s native plants (e.g. harvesting of threatened plant species). At the same time it streamlines the regulation of low risk and sustainable activities that pose minimal threat to protected plants.

By largely deregulating the harvesting of protected plants, plant harvesters and recreational and commercial growers can explore new opportunities to grow and trade native plants. This has the potential to trigger a greater use of native plants in gardening and landscaping and foster a greater appreciation of Queensland’s plant biodiversity.

Protecting species at risk

The protected plant regulatory framework focuses on protecting those species that face real risks. In the case of native plant harvesting and growing, this means regulating activities affecting native plants that are:

  • threatened species (i.e. those native plants listed as extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable) and near threatened species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992
  • special least concern species (i.e. least concern plant species subject to harvesting pressure because of their commercial value or their special characteristics (e.g. being slow growing or slow to reproduce)). Special least concern plants are listed in schedule 2 of the Nature Conservation (Plants) Regulation 2020.

The remaining least concern plants are exempt from requiring a licence for the harvesting of whole plants or plant parts from the wild for growing purposes. This means that there are no licensing requirements for thousands of plant species.

Protected Plant growing licence

You need a protected plant growing licence to harvest whole restricted plants or plant parts for propagation or cultivation purposes. Specifically, a growing licence allows you to harvest:

  • plant parts for the purpose of growing plants
  • whole plants only where they are to be used as stock plants
  • whole plants where there is a need to introduce the plant into cultivation for commercial purposes
  • whole plants to replenish the genetic variation of a plant already in cultivation.

You must also have the necessary knowledge, facilities and resources to propagate the plants. A protected plant growing licence can only be granted if the proposed harvest activity is sustainable. A sustainable harvest plan may be required as part of an application for a protected plant growing licence, and must be prepared in accordance with the protected plants assessment guidelines (PDF, 205KB).

When a protected plant growing licence is granted, harvesting of whole plants or plant parts must be conducted in compliance with the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants under an authority (PDF, 213 KB) . The code specifies how the harvesting is to be carried out and how protected plant harvest records and protected plant harvest labels are to be kept. Whole plants taken under a protected plant growing licence cannot be sold or given away.

What is a restricted plant?

All plants that are native to Queensland are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Under the Nature Conservation (Plants) Regulation 2020, restrictions exist on the harvest or use of protected plants that are classified as 'restricted plants'. Restricted plants are listed under the Nature Conservation (Plants) Regulation 2020 and include protected plants that are extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants, as well as plants listed as special least concern.

What is a special least concern plant?

This is a category of protected plants that includes those species that are likely to be subject to increased harvesting pressure due to their commercial and recreational demand, and the nature of their growth and reproduction (e.g. small or slow growing species, species that produce limited seed). A full list of special least concern plants can be found in Schedule 2 of the Nature Conservation (Plants) Regulation 2020.

Applying for a Protected Plant Growing Licence

To apply for a Protected plant growing licence you will need to fill in an application form for a protected plant growing licence (DOC, 273KB).

Read the Protected plants assessment guidelines (PDF, 205KB) for more information about applying for a protected plant growing licence and preparing a sustainable harvest plan under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

A focus on sustainability

Under this framework, harvest must be carried out in an ecologically sustainable way and a sustainable harvest plan may be required. These plans must demonstrate the long-term sustainability of any harvesting of plants from the wild.

A sustainable harvest plan must also demonstrate that the taking of plants provides a benefit for the conservation of the species of protected plant that is being taken under the licence. This benefit could come in the form of new knowledge being obtained about a species’ biology through its propagation and cultivation. This knowledge could then be applied to the species’ conservation in the wild. Other benefits could be gained by incorporating planting programs into a sustainable harvest plan to enhance the species’ abundance in the wild.

Record keeping and labelling requirements

Protected plant harvest record

If you harvest protected plants under a licence or exemption, you must keep a protected plant harvest record (XLS, 113 KB) . The record must include the information stated in the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants under an authority (PDF, 213 KB) and be kept in a written or electronic record system.

Records are necessary to see specific details of the harvest for compliance purposes and to show the plant or plant part was lawfully harvested from the wild.

Protected plant harvest labels

If you undertake a harvest, you must attach a protected plant harvest label to a whole restricted plant or restricted plant part when the plant or plant part is harvested from the wild, under a protected plant licence or exemption. The label must be attached at the time of harvest to each whole plant, bundle of plant parts or container of plant parts. The protected plant harvest label must include the information stated in the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants under an authority (PDF, 213 KB) and must remain with the plant until a protected plant trade label is attached or the plant starts being used for personal use. The label identifies specific details of the lawful harvest of a plant or plant part from the wild, while ensuring the information is visible for trade purposes.