Protection of species of wild plants

United Kingdom legislation for plant protection extends to land, including land covered by water, and territorial waters. The legislation prohibits any person from intentionally (in Scotland, also recklessly) picking, uprooting or destroying wild plants which are listed on the appropriate Schedule, and it is an offence to sell such wild plants. The legislation also prohibits the uprooting of wild plants not listed on the Schedule, unless the uprooting is carried out by the owner or occupier of the land on which the plant is growing, or by someone having their permission to do so, or unless the action is authorised in writing by the appropriate local authority, although such authorisation does not confer a right of entry to the land.
It is a defence if the damage done to a protected plant listed on the Schedule is the result of an otherwise lawful action and could not reasonably have been avoided. The uprooting, picking or damaging of protected plants may be permitted under licence for purposes of science, education, conservation and photography, or to preserve public health or safety, or to prevent the spread of disease, or for the purpose of preventing serious damage to livestock, crops, growing timber or other form of property, or fisheries. The sale of such plants may also be permitted under licence, which must be obtained by the appropriate authority.
In Great Britain, wildlife inspectors have the authority to enter and inspect a premise to investigate if the selling or intended sale of plants has been committed on the premise, and they have the power to take samples where they deem it necessary.
In the United Kingdom, wild plants are also protected by European legislation, however there are no additional species which are protected; the appropriate Schedule lists the same species which are protected under UK legislation. The European protection, however, prohibits the collecting or cutting of certain wild plants, in addition to the picking, uprooting, destroying, selling or transporting of such wild plants.
In Great Britain, the appropriate authority responsible for the issue of licences for scientific or conservation purposes, or for photography, is the statutory nature conservation agency, (Natural England (formally English Nature) in England, Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland and the Countryside Council for Wales in Wales). The appropriate authority for licences relating to the sale of protected plants is the appropriate Minister, and for licences relating to public health and safety, the preventing the spread of disease, or preventing serious damage to livestock, crops, growing timber, other property or fisheries is the agricultural Minister. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Environment and the Environment and Heritage Service are responsible for the granting of all licences, in relation to wild plants.
In Great Britain, the appropriate Minister may add or remove plants to or from the Schedule when it is appropriate to do so. Every five years, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee is required to advise the Secretary of State on whether any species of plant should be added to, or removed from, the Schedule in relation to Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, the power to add or remove any species of plants to or from the relevant Schedule lies with the Department of the Environment, who must consult the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside before changes can be made.
The legislative provisions in Great Britain for the protection of wild plants are contained primarily in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, Section 13, with protected wild plants listed on Schedule 8, and the licensing and enforcement provisions in Sections 16-27. In England and Wales, enforcement provisions were extended by the Countryside Rights of Access Act, 2000, Section 81 and Schedule 12. In Scotland, the provisions were amended by Section 50 and Schedule 6 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. In Northern Ireland, the legal provisions are similar to those in Great Britain and are covered by the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985 (Amended 1995), Articles 14 and 18, and the protected wild plants are listed on Schedule 8. The protection of European plant species in Great Britain is covered by the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations, 1994, Part II, Regulations 42-46, with the wild plant species listed on Schedule 4 and, in Northern Ireland, the provisions for European species are laid down in the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (NI) 1995, Part II, Regulations 37-41, and the wild plant species are listed on Schedule 4.

JNCC has collated information on conservation designations for UK taxa, and the list is available to download as a spreadsheet.