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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.

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 critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable) and near threatened species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (the Act)
  • 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 (Plants) Regulation 2020 (the Regulation) 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 either the Code of Practice For the harvest and use of protected plants under an authority (PDF, 213 KB) or the Code of Practice For the take and use of protected plants under an exemption (PDF, 196 KB) . The record keeping and trade label requirements in these codes are identical.

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 Act. Under the Regulations 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 Regulations as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants, and plants listed as special least concern under schedule 2.

Protected plant trade records

The purpose of a protected plant trade record (XLS, 174 KB) 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.

A protected plant trade record requirement applies to a person who uses or moves a restricted plant for trade and must:

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.

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.

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.

A protected plant trade label must include:

Protected plant official tags

An official tag is supplied by the department to attach to a whole restricted plant, to demonstrate the lawful take of the plant from the wild. It 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 whole restricted plants used for trade
  • be attached to a restricted plant before it is moved, or as soon as an official tag is received
  • 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 Queensland for trade, additional labelling requirements apply to demonstrate that the plants were lawfully obtained. Section 175 261ZL of the Regulation outlines these requirements.