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Trading in 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) while streamlining the regulation of low risk and sustainable activities that pose minimal threat to protected plants.

This framework also contributes to the government’s red tape reduction initiative and is expected to create new opportunities for the native plant trade industry.

Protecting species at risk

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

  • threatened species (i.e. those native plants listed as 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).

The remaining least concern plants are exempt from any record keeping and tagging requirements as the trade of these plants poses minimal threat to their abundance or survival in the wild.

The record keeping, labelling and tag requirements provide a transparent process that ensures plant species with special conservation considerations are traded legally and responsibly.

Requirements for trade

A licence is no longer required to trade in protected plants. In its place, particular record keeping, labelling and tagging requirements apply. The purpose of these requirements is to demonstrate that protected plants have been legally sourced from the wild and to allow protected plants to be tracked through the harvesting and trade process, from their place of origin to the point of sale.

The Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 lists the requirements for trade in protected plants, including the use of protected plant trade records, protected plant trade labels and official tags. The specific information that is required for a protected plant trade record or trade label is listed in the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants (PDF, 260KB).

The record keeping and labelling system replaces the former return of operation requirements under the previous legislative framework.

If whole restricted plants or plant parts are harvested from the wild, protected plant harvest records and protected plant harvest labels are also required.

What is a restricted plant?

All plants that are native to Queensland are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 restrictions exist on the harvest or use of protected plants that are classified as 'restricted plants'. Restricted plants include plants that are listed under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants, and plants listed as special least concern under schedule 3A of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

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 3A of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

Protected plant trade records

A protected plant trade record (XLS, 174KB) must be kept for trade in restricted plants. This requirement applies to a person who uses or moves a restricted plant for trade. A protected plant trade record must include the relevant information as stated in the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants (PDF, 260KB) and must be kept in a written or electronic record system. The level of record keeping required is similar to a standard business stock management system, by tracking species and quantities of plants that are sourced, traded and moved.

The purpose of a protected plant trade record is to ensure a person trading in restricted plants can identify lawful trade of a plant or plant part that has been lawfully taken from the wild and can maintain the specific details of the trade for compliance purposes.

The protected plant trade record is created and retained by the person or entity trading the restricted plant or plant part. The trade record does not require approval from the department but must be available for inspection by the department if required.

Protected plant trade labels

A protected plant trade label must be used for trade in restricted plants. This requirement applies to using or moving a restricted plant or plant part for trade, and when propagating or cultivating restricted plants for trade. A protected plant trade label must include the relevant information as stated in the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants (PDF, 260KB). The information on the label will identify lawful harvest and trade of the plant and must be attached to the restricted plant (or attached as close as possible to a whole plant), bundle of plant parts or container of plant parts.

The protected plant trade label is created by the person or entity trading the restricted plant or plant part and also kept by this person or entity. The trade label does not require approval from the department.

A protected plant trade label must include:

  • the scientific name and common name (if any) of the plant or plant part taken or otherwise obtained
  • the origin or source of the plants or plant parts (e.g. lawfully taken from the wild, propagated, cultivated or imported from another state or territory)
  • for wild harvested plants or plant parts, the licence number and type, or exemption number, under which the plant or plant parts were harvested.

Protected plant official tags

An official tag is supplied by the department to attach to a whole restricted plant, to demonstrate lawful take of the plant from the wild. An official tag must be attached to whole restricted plants used for trade. The official tag includes a reference number that links to the protected plant licence of the person or entity trading the plant.

Official tags may be supplied by the department when a protected plant licence is granted. Alternatively, a person with a protected plant harvesting licence may apply to receive official tags, for example when obtaining restricted plants through a salvage activity.

An official tag must be attached to a restricted plant before it is moved, or as soon as an official tag is received. An official tag must remain on the restricted plant until the plant is used for personal use.

Moving plants outside the state

When trading or moving restricted plants outside of the state for trade, additional labelling requirements apply to demonstrate that the plants were lawfully obtained. Section 261ZL of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 outlines these requirements.