The European Parliament and Council adopted a regulation on the Nagoya Protocol on the 9th June 2014 (regulation No 511/2014). This means that all 28 European countries are now expected to legislate, such that the Protocol will become legally binding across the Union. By the end of the year the Protocol itself will begin to take form, and the implications of this to all plant collections and plant collectors will be profound. How the Protocol will function is still a grey area until such time as the signatories meet for the first time. Needless to say, the Protocol presents a huge challenge to maintaining the quality and diversity of plant collections throughout these islands.
The European regulation requires that a register of collections be put in place that will be maintained by the European Commission. To get onto this register, collections must be able to demonstrate that they can handle genetic material in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. The exchange of plant material, other than standard garden centre fare, will be severely limited for those collections and gardens that are not on the, yet to be established, register.
Registered collections must be able to demonstrate appropriate due diligence in ensuring the tracking and of plant material as well as standardised procedures for exchanging plants. Member states will be expected to develop competent authorities to verify if a garden or collection holder meets the requirements for recognition as a collection for inclusion.
There is no agreement yet on how these registers, or authorities, or even the Protocol itself will operate. However, without doubt it will become necessary to link documentation providing evidence of legal access with our living collection records. PlantNetwork aims to provide practical advice and assistance to enable our members to comply with these new demands and in particular with guidelines on how to go about getting onto the Register once it is established.
This article was originally published in the PlantNetwork Newsletter No. 45, July 2014.