European protected species of plant licensing
It is against the law to pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a European Protected Species (EPS) of plant wherever it grows. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) grants licences so you can work within the law
Any survey work you had planned as part of a species licence application should only be undertaken where absolutely necessary following the latest social distancing guidelines from the government.
- Check the latest guidance provided by environmental businesses such as the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
- As it may not be possible to update your surveys this season, this year we will extend this and accept surveys from the last three years.
- You should complete your survey at the first available and appropriate opportunity once restrictions are lifted.
If you have further question you can contact our species team via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some species of plants have declined throughout Europe to such an extent that they are now offered special protection in law. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (known as ‘the Habitats Regulations’) transposed into UK law the EC Habitats Directive of 1992, which listed these EPS.
This page cannot cover all aspects of the law, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect these rare species.
The following plants occurring in Wales are European Protected Species (EPS), and are listed on Schedule 5 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017:
- Fen Orchid, Liparis loeselii
- Floating Water-plantain, Luronium natans
- Killarney Fern, Trichomanes speciosum
- Shore Dock, Rumex rupestris
Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you deliberately pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a wild plant of a European protected species.
There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale. See ‘Possession and Sale of Protected Species’ for further information.
NRW issues licences under Regulation 55 of the Habitats Regulations to allow activities involving EPS to proceed, which would otherwise be offences. We issue them for specific purposes stated in the Regulations, if the following three tests are met:
- The purpose of the work meets one of those listed in the Habitats Regulations
- That there is no satisfactory alternative
- That the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status (FCS) in their natural range
The Habitats Regulations permits licences to be issued for a specific set of purposes including:
- Include preserving public health or public safety or other imperative reasons of over-riding public interest including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment
- Scientific and educational purposes
- Conserving wild plants or introducing them to particular areas
For more information on plant licences, see ‘Plants – development application form’, ‘Plants – application form’ and ‘General information on applying for a licence from NRW’.