One Size Doesn’t Fit All: EU Legislation Could Ban the Sale of 100’s Common Garden Plants

Gardeners may be required to dig up and burn many of our favourite garden plants and Garden Centres and Nurseries, banned from selling 100’s of shrubs and herbaceous plants because of new EU legislation.

103-bonfire-23-janThe EU has announced today that they are planning to ban the sale of 100’s of plants across Europe to stem to flow of invasive alien species (IAS).  A good idea in principal, however this proposal is poorly thought through and; like so many EU directives “one size doesn’t fit all”

One mans weed is another mans prize specimen and what might be considered invasive in one country, could be considered hard to grow in another.  The problem is that this legislation doesn’t take this into account. 100’s of our favourite garden plants, could be caught up in this blanket ban.

This would mean it would be illegal to sell for example rhododendrons because Rhododendron ponticum (a very invasive species) is in the parentage of as many as 300 garden plants. This doesn’t mean that all these are invasive, however the Royal Horticultural Society are very concerned about the lack of clarity around the new powers.

Back in September 2013 the European Commission outlined its plans to tackle the continent's invasive species. IAS are non-native plants or animals that have no natural predators, spread rapidly and overwhelm an area's native flora and fauna

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). held a conference in Switzerland and as a result of this the EU came up with a ban on the possession, transport, selling or growing of species deemed as of "Union Concern".

The list was originally going to be restricted to 50, but will now have no limit. It is not clear which species will be banned.

Wednesday's report from the Environmental Audit Committee welcomes the strengthening of the rules. Committee chairwoman Joan Walley MP said: "The UK has to be ready to take on board the step changes that there will be as a result of the European decision.

Unfortunately for gardeners, Ms Walley who obviously isn’t a gardener herself, does appreciate the implications behind this legislation.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) currently has its own guidelines on restricted species.So why do we need further legislation from the EU?

Nobody is denying that IAS are a problem, but If this is allowed to go ahead, gardeners could be sleep waling into a situation where their favourite garden plants are considered illegal to sell and grow.