Apply for a whole-plant licence

Find out which licence you need and how to apply for a licence to pick or grow whole protected plants for sale.

Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) is one of our iconic threatened speciesYou need a biodiversity conservation licence granted under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) to pick or cultivate whole protected plant species for commercial purposes.

No matter what licence you’re applying for, you’ll need to read and be sure you can comply with the conditions of your licence. It is an offence under the BC Act to breach a condition of a licence.

Licence requirements

Protected plant species that require a licence to be picked or grown for sale are listed in Part 2 of Schedule 6 of the BC Act.

The species listed in Part 2 of Schedule 6 are divided into 5 groups. These groups have different licensing, tagging and monitoring requirements.

Detailed information about licensing requirements for the commercial use of whole plants is included in the Protected Whole Plants Sustainable Management Plan 2018-2022 (WPMP).

Get the right licence

The type of licence you need to harvest or cultivate whole protected plants for commercial purposes depends upon where and what you want to harvest. Answering these 3 questions will help you work out which type of licence you need.

 (a) Whole plants  See Question 2
 (b) Seeds  Seed Harvester Licence
(a) Naturally occurring wild plants See Question 3
(b) Plants I have grown from seed, cuttings, nursery stock, or other non-wild sources and established as an orchard/crop Grower Licence
(a) The land is owned by me and I only intend to harvest plant species listed in Group 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 6 of the BC Act Wild Harvester Licence
(b) The land is owned by me and I intend to harvest plant species listed in Groups 2 and/or 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 6 of the BC Act Approved Harvester Licence
(c) The land is not owned by me – it is owned by someone else who has granted me access and I intend to harvest plants species listed in Groups 1, 2 and/or 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 6 of the BC Act Approved Harvester Licences

Types of licences

There are four types of licence for the commercial use of whole plants: 

  • Wild harvester licence
  • Approved harvester licence
  • Seed harvester licence.
  • Grower licence.

Each licence has different licensing restrictions, tagging, monitoring and record-keeping requirements.

Licence application fees vary depending on the costs to assess, regulate and monitor the licensed activities.

If you plan to undertake multiple activities you’ll need the relevant licence for each activity. If you plan to carry out multiple activities at the same location, you will most likely pay a single licence fee based on the activity with the highest fee. The term will be for the shortest licence.

This licence allows you to pick whole plants for commercial purposes from naturally occurring stands on property you own.

Plants you can pick

A wild harvester licence only allows the harvest of whole plant species from Group 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 6.

Monitoring

Wild harvesters must establish monitoring plots to help them monitor harvest sustainability and provide harvest data to their local NPWS area office. Monitoring may be through the provision of accurate geographical coordinates or establishment of a fixed photographic monitoring point.

Tagging

  • NPWS tags are required for all species being harvested.
  • Find out more about tagging and how to apply for NPWS tags.

Record keeping

You will need to complete a Harvest Return Sheet (DOC 40KB) with information for each day of harvesting. This must include:

  • the date and site of the harvest
  • the number of plants harvested (and their relevant size classes, if appropriate)
  • the tag numbers allocated to the plants from the site

Harvest return sheets must be made available for inspection on request and must be submitted annually in an electronic format. No new licences will be granted until all return sheets are submitted.

Conditions

Licences include binding conditions; it's important you understand and meet the Wild Harvester (Whole Plant) Licence Conditions (PDF 197KB).

Licence cost and duration

$135 for 3 years, including site inspections.

Apply

To apply for a wild harvester licence, download and fill out the Wild Harvester (Whole Plant) Application Form (DOC 61KB)

Applications will be subject to site inspections to verify the availability of species.

Find your local NPWS area office to submit an application or obtain further advice.

Please allow enough time for your application to be assessed. You will be contacted if further information is needed to complete the assessment.

This licence allows you to pick particular species of protected plants from naturally occurring stands on land you own and/or on land not owned by you.

Before being granted this licence type you will need to demonstrate a minimum level of experience, equipment and facilities.

Harvest site and stockpile site control procedures must be provided with the licence application.

A forest products licence from the local regional office of the Forestry Corporation of NSW must also be obtained for harvest in state forests.

Plants you can pick

The approved harvester licence allows you to harvest species on:

This licence does not allow you to harvest species from:

  • Groups 4 or 5 of Part 2 of Schedule 6
  • threatened species unless individually listed in Groups 1, 2 and 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 6
  • threatened ecological communities or areas of outstanding biodiversity value unless approved in a salvage situation.

Types of harvest

This licence allows you to undertake two types of harvest:

Sustainable harvest

  • This is the harvest of protected whole plants from stands of native vegetation on private lands at a rate which allows the population of the target species to persist indefinitely.
  • Restricted to species listed in Groups 1 and 2 of Part 2 of Schedule 6

Salvage harvest

  • This is the harvest of protected plants, where construction, mining, forestry or infrastructure development will result in their destruction
  • only applies to an approved development; for forestry operations, salvage will only be permitted from the area of an approved plantation currently being harvested
  • is restricted to species listed in Groups 1, 2 and 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 6. Also, restrictions apply to the size of plant that can be harvested.

A single approved harvester licence may cover harvest at multiple sites and under ‘sustainable’ and ‘salvage’ situations. You will need a site approval licence for each harvest site before you can harvest.

Site approvals

  • As an approved harvester licence holder, you will need to obtain a site approval licence for each salvage or sustainable harvest location before you can harvest anything.
  • A site approval licence may be granted for a sustainable harvest or a salvage harvest, but not for both harvest types at a single location.
  • Only one site approval licence will be granted for the sustainable harvest of a species at a site in any 5-year period, unless any previous site approvals were below the sustainable harvest level or were not filled. In these cases, additional site approvals may be granted to allow the harvest of the remainder of the sustainable harvest level.
  • Written permission is required from the landowner for a site approval licence to be granted.
  • Site approval applications may be subject to initial site inspections to verify the availability of species and to random inspections during the licence period.
  • Site approval licences are granted for 1 year only.

Monitoring

Approved harvesters must establish monitoring plots to help them monitor harvest sustainability and provide harvest data to their local NPWS area office. Monitoring may be through the provision of accurate geographical coordinates or establishment of a fixed photographic monitoring point.

Tagging

  • NPWS tags are required for all species harvested from the wild.
  • Find out more about tagging and how to apply for NPWS tags.

Record keeping

A Harvest Return Sheet (DOC 13KB) must be completed with information for each day of harvesting. It must include:

  • the date and site of the harvest
  • the number of plants harvested (and their relevant size classes, if appropriate)
  • the tag numbers allocated to the plants from the site.

Harvest return sheets must be made available for inspection on request and must be submitted annually in an electronic format. No new licences or site approvals will be granted until all returns are submitted.

Licensees must also maintain records of plants at the stockpile site which detail the location of harvest and the time since harvest.

Conditions

Licences include binding conditions; it’s important you understand and meet the conditions of your licence/s.

Licence cost and duration

  • Approved harvester licence: $175 for 3 years
  • Site approval licence: $75 per site per year.

Apply

To apply for an approved harvester licence, download and fill out the Approved Harvester Licence Application Form (DOC 64KB)

Email your Approved Harvester Licence Application Form to the Wildlife Team.

To apply for a site approval, download and fill out the Site Approval Licence Application Form (DOC 63KB)

Find your local NPWS area office to submit site approval licence applications or obtain further advice.

Please allow enough time for your application to be assessed. You will be contacted if further information is needed to complete an assessment.

This licence allows you to propagate protected and threatened plants for commercial purposes from artificially cultivated stock on land you own or occupy.

Plants you can grow

The grower licence allows you to cultivate species of protected plants in Part 2 of Schedule 6, and threatened species, as long as the source of the material can be legally identified.

Tagging

  • Grower tags are required for all species. Tags should include ‘plantation grown’ wording.
  • NPWS tags are required for plants in larger class sizes (see Appendix K of the WPMP), where there is likely to be confusion between grown and wild harvested plants. In this situation, NPWS tags must be used instead of grower tags.
  • NPWS tags may be purchased where growers are unable to produce their own tags.
  • Find out more about tagging and how to apply for NPWS tags.

Record keeping

Licence holders will need to complete a Harvest Return Sheet (DOC 40KB) each year. It must include:

  • date and site of the harvest
  • number of plants harvested (and their relevant size classes, if appropriate)
  • tag numbers allocated to the plants from the site (if applicable)
  • other relevant comments, including product-specific requirements.

Licensees must also maintain records of the source of all propagating material.

Conditions

Licences include binding conditions; it’s important you understand and meet the Grower Licence Conditions (PDF 196KB)

Licence cost and duration

  • $30 for 1 year
  • $75 for 3 years
  • $100 for 5 years.

Apply

To apply for a grower licence, download and fill out the Grower Licence Application Form (DOC 68KB).

Find your local NPWS area office to submit an application or obtain further advice.

Please allow enough time for your application to be assessed; you will be contacted if further information is needed to complete the assessment.

This licence allows you to pick and sell seeds or spores collected from protected plants in the wild.

If you intend to sell plants you have grown from seed, you will also need a grower licence.

Plants you can pick

A seed harvester licence allows you to harvest seed or spores from the wild for species listed in Parts 1 and/or 2 of Schedule 6 of the BC Act.

This licence does not allow you to harvest seed or spores from threatened species listed under Schedule 1 of the BC Act.

Harvest is not permitted from areas of outstanding biodiversity value (Part 3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation) or threatened ecological communities (Schedule 2 of the BC Act) unless approved in a salvage situation.

Individual licences may have limits or restrictions imposed on the species and quantities that may be harvested.

Collection of vegetative material, for example, cuttings or plant divisions, is not permitted under this licence.

Licence cost and duration

$175 for 3 years

Apply

To apply for a seed harvester licence, download and fill out the Seed Harvester Licence Application Form (DOC 63KB).

Find your local NPWS area office to submit an application or obtain further advice.

Please allow enough time for your application to be assessed; you will be contacted if further information is needed to complete the assessment.

Whole plant licence types and species groups


 Whole protected plant species group

Licence type Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Wild harvester licence Yes No No No No
Approved harvest licence - sustainable  Yes  Yes  No  No No 
Approved harvest licence - salvage  Yes  Yes  Yes  No  No
Seed harvester licence Yes Yes Yes Yes
(excluding threatened species)
No
Grower licence Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Example species Elkhorn Grass trees Palms Orchids Wollemi pine

Tagging

Tagging enables the origin of protected whole plants to be traced to a licensed harvester or grower. Tags also help consumers choose between bush-picked and cultivated plants.

Under the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, it is an offence to breach any requirements to attach tags to protected plants.

NPWS tags are required for all whole plant species acquired from the wild under wild harvester or approved harvester licences. Some grower licensees may require NPWS tags for certain species in larger size classes.

NPWS tags are produced by the NPWS and are prefixed and numbered so that the origin of protected plants can be traced.

Apply for NPWS tags

NPWS tags currently cost 20 cents each.

Premium NPWS tags are required for grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) over 1 metre in height and currently cost $5.

Find your local NPWS area office to apply for NPWS tags or obtain further advice on tagging.

Grower tags are required for all Schedule 6, Part 2 whole plant species offered or displayed for retail sale under grower licences.

Grower tags are printed or written by the grower or a professional industry association. The tags must be made of durable material and provide enough information to trace the product to its origin. Suggested details include species botanical name, the term ‘plantation grown’ and the name of the supplier.

When whole protected plants are sold in batches to the wholesale or landscape sectors and it is not practical to tag individual plants, the grower must provide the same information required for a grower tag (for example, species scientific name, ‘plantation grown’ and supplier name) to the buyer.

Threatened species

Threatened species and plants from threatened ecological communities, as listed in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the BC Act or the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 cannot be harvested from the wild for commercial use. This means you cannot harvest these species under a wild harvester, approved harvester or seed harvester licence.

Threatened species may be cultivated under a grower licence. In this case applicants must be able to demonstrate that the parent (source/founder) material has been legally acquired.

The picking and cultivation of protected and threatened plant species for research or conservation purposes requires a scientific licence.

Definitions

Some important definitions:

  • Picking a plant includes gather, take, cut, remove from the ground, destroy, poison, crush or injure the plant or any part of the plant.
  • A site is defined as a single property held under individual title, or a specific parcel of land managed by a public authority. Each state forest is considered a separate property/site.