Seeds of exotic plants illegally collected in the Himalayas are being sold in the UK, the BBC has found. National Himalayan authorities say no permission was obtained to gather and export the plant material. The activity harms the environment and deprives local people of benefits from the trade of plants, they add.
Some of the suppliers told the BBC that locals had actually helped them collect the flowers; others said they did not know their activities were illegal. Experts say horticulture societies and clubs across the UK have long raised questions about such practice.
“As an EU member state, the UK is subject to new EU regulation which implements the Protocol in the EU,” says John Dickie, senior research leader with the Millennium Seed Bank, which is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Users of genetic resources in the UK will need to show ‘due diligence’ that the resources were acquired legally.”
Mr Watson from the Edinburgh gardens said people growing plants at home should be aware of where their plants are from – and what impact their removal could have on those countries and local people.
“A fair analogy is to compare with the fair trade type of movement: people are getting more aware these days of sourcing their food ethically, and it is about time people should be thinking about the same thing for the plants that they are growing in their garden.”