The Wild Flower Society Code of Conduct for the conservation and enjoyment of wild plants

This code of conduct is taken from the BSBI .pdf document which can be downloaded here:

The Wild Flower Society has agreed that its published code of conduct should be the same as that of The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. This updated code was created in 2017 by Sarah Whild and Fred Rumsey in consultation with colleagues from Joint Nature Conservancy Committee and Natural England. It is a suggested guide for those who wish to explore the wild plants of countryside but is not a legal document.

Summary of the Main Points of the Code of Conduct

Yes, you can usually pick a few wild flowers for study and/or enjoyment, if none of the following caveats apply (but take only 1 in 20)

The same applies for foraging (for yourself) – only take 1 in 20

Uprooting any plant is illegal unless you have the landowner’s permission

Some plants are specifically protected by law and cannot be picked or disturbed unless you have the appropriate licence (see Schedule 8 at the back)

On legally protected sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, there may be a blanket ban on picking any vegetation

Some non-native invasive plant species cannot be introduced into the wild except by licence (see Schedule 9), so do not introduce any species into the wild

When picking wild flowers or foraging, be mindful of the consequences of your action on other wildlife (some birds need berries for winter survival – do you?)v

Who is this guide aimed at?

Are you a forager?

A plant photographer?

Do you like a walk in the countryside to look at wild flowers?

Do you lead wildlife walks?

Are you a plant recorder?

Are you a natural history/ biology teacher or trainer?

Then this guide is for you.

There are laws protecting ALL wild plants, but by following the guidelines in this Code you should be able to enjoy wild flowers and plants, stay on the right side of the law AND pick wild flowers and fruits responsibly.

Generally, uprooting is harmful, but picking with care and in moderation usually does little damage and can help to enthuse and engender an appreciation of wild plants, which in turn benefits their conservation. In some cases, however, picking can be harmful and may even be illegal.

This Code is written specifically for vascular plants (flowering plants and ferns, horsetails, clubmosses and quillworts). There are codes produced by The British Mycological Society for collecting wild mushrooms and other fungi; the British Lichen Society for collecting lichens; the British Bryological Society for mosses and liverworts. However, the legal interpretation below applies to all plants, lichens and fungi.

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