The Orchid Forum, for the UK and Europe (previously known as The UK Orchid Forum) • View topic - Importing orchids to the UK - how to help prevent extinction
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:21 am 
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CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It regulates the ability to trade in orchids. And any parts of orchids. And seeds of orchids. And derivatives of orchids (eg. salep is restricted, but commercial vanilla pods are OK). CITES has a few lists (called "Appendices") of species which lay out the rules on trade for the plants on them. The EU also has some slightly longer lists (called "Annexes") which list orchids.

CITES lays out the basic rules. The EC implements those rules, but is allowed to make them tighter (which they do). And then, last, the individual EU countries implement the EC rules, and are also allowed to make them tighter in turn (which they do).

Species on CITES Appendix I
In danger of extinction and cannot realistically be traded across any country's border. This includes the following orchids:

Aerangis ellisii
Dendrobium cruentum
Laelia jongheana
Laelia lobata

All Paphiopedilum species
Peristeria elata
All Phragmipedium species
Renanthera imschootiana

The EC's own Annex A
This list is more extensive and applies to these:

Cattleya trianaei
Cephalanthera cucullata
Cypripedium calceolus
Dendrobium cruentum
Goodyera macrophylla
Laelia jongheana
Laelia lobata
Liparis loeselii
Ophrys argolica
Ophrys lunulata
Orchis scopulorum

All Paphiopedilum species
Peristeria elata
All Phragmipedium species
Renanthera imschootiana
Spiranthes aestivalis
Vanda coerulea

All native European orchids

None of these can realistically be imported into the EU by a hobbyist, nor exported out of the EU. Flasked seedlings/tissue cultures in vitro for these orchids may have less stringent rules, or may be exempt: you need to ask your national regulating authority to be sure. Normally proof is still required that the origin of the seeds or other originating material was all CITES-compliant.

All countries in the EU are regarded as being the same big country for these purposes, so you can trade from Germany to England, for example, with no problems. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are excluded from this though.

All other orchids not on Annex A, above
Under protection in the EU, and can only be imported/exported if certain regulations are followed. In the UK that means you need to obtain an import permit to import them from outside the EU. This category contains all other orchids, but see lower down this post for possible exceptions. To import orchids into the UK from outside the EU you need to take these steps:
i) Contact DEFRA and ask what they require in order to issue you with an import permit: wildlife.licensing@animalhealth.gsi.gov.uk (Tel: 0117 372 8774).
ii) Contact the seller and ask them to send you their own CITES export permit.
iii) Fill out the application form for an import permit. You will need to know the name of the orchid, the CITES Appendix it is listed on, the EC Annex it is listed on, and possibly more details.
iv) Send the application form and CITES export document from the seller to DEFRA along with any other information/documents they ask you for (you might need more from the seller at this point), and with the application fee (currently £59 per species being imported).
v) Receive an import permit from DEFRA.
vi) Send this import permit to the seller.
vii) Tell the seller you also require a phytosanitary certificate in English.
viii) Instruct the seller to mark an envelope with "For the Attention of HM Customs and Excise" and place the CITES import permit and phytosanitary certificate into it, and attach it to the outside of the parcel containing the orchid(s).
ix) If required, pay the Customs charges applicable for inspection and processing of the parcel and paperwork when it arrives in the UK (currently up to around £15).

All other countries in the EU follow a similar process, but you will need to contact your national authority to confirm what you need to do. Some EU countries will allow an import of non-Annex A orchids if they are merely accompanied with a CITES export certificate and a statement/proof that the plants were artificially propogated. But NOT the UK. Check with your own country's authority to see what you need. Remember CITES Appendix 1 (and EC Anex A) are effectively always prohibited.

Flasked seedlings or tissue culture plants which are not on EC Annex A/CITES Appendix I are exempt from all this, and can be traded with no restriction (but perhaps check with your national regulating authority). Seeds and pollen of these orchids are also free from regulation (but not for those on Annex A/Appendix I, and not actual seedpods, and still check with your national regulating authority). And orchids fitting the descriptions given here are exempt from CITES (but not necessarily exempt from EU law - you must check with your national authority).


So, to help protect orchids, and yourself, when buying/selling, please:

1) Do not trade in any orchid from outside the EU to inside the UK. Please only do so if you can satisfy all the above rigmarole.

2) Report all listings of CITES Appendix 1 orchids on eBay which will sell from outside their own country to another country to eBay themselves, unless doing so in vitro, using the "report" feature on their site. Do not buy from these sellers. It is also worth sending a link to the URL to wildlife.enforce@animalhealth.gsi.gov.uk and notify them.



By way of illustration, I have reported this listing to eBay today, telling them that this is CITES Appendix I and that international trade is banned: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/orchid-Paphiopedilum-hirsutissimum-/330468303545?pt=UK_HomeGarden_Garden_PlantsSeedsBulbs_JN&hash=item4cf17222b9

If anyone from another European Country is able to add to this thread with what they know of their own country's system, then that would be helpful. Or if any of the above seems incorrect, please say so :greetings-waveyellow:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:40 am 
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Rob,

A very good piece on rules and regs for importing :)
I knew about Jersey, but didn't know about the Isle of Man, so thanks for that bit of info.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:08 pm 
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Hi Rob

Very good posting.................. people need to understand DEFRA takes contravention of the regulations very seriously and can lead to heavy fines or imprisonment!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:55 am 
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That information is invaluable, thank you, Rob! I see the http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/orchid-Paphiopedi ... 4cf17222b9 is still on ebay...

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:02 am 
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When I checked this out a couple of years ago there was an exception for import to the UK from some countries bordering the Mediterranean that are not in the EU. ( It applied to all plants except potatoes). I do not know if this exemption is still in force.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:25 am 
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Quote:
people need to understand DEFRA takes contravention of the regulations very seriously and can lead to heavy fines or imprisonment!

I suppose this isn't being taken as seriously as it could, by both DEFRA and eBay. eBay is the only place where sellers and buyers don't observe the law. On top of it, eBay often creates the illusion that in fact importing plants from abroad (CITES or not) is legal without the need for any paperwork.

They could quite easily prevent this or make it psychologically harder to do so, by changing the way the treat search results. For example by
  • restricting search results for plants to EU countries when made from a EU ebay site
  • by listing non-EU search results separately (under international sellers in their local currency) - today asian orchid sellers, selling via eBay into Europe are listed in GBP or EURO creating the illusion that buying from them is fine
  • Or they could annotate searches results linking to appropriate regulations

None of this is happening, which really puts into question how seriously this is indeed taken. Ebay doesn't give a damn. I also have negative experience and lack of confidence in DEFRA: I have written at least a dozen letters to both DEFRA and my local council concerning issues with illegal handling of Japanese Knotweed on land owned by the council and have not even got an acknowledgement. The council gets contractors, every 1-2 years which cut down the knotweed and just drive it to a dump.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Dear friends,

I am very happy people take this seriously. I am situated in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Orchids stolen from the forest are very commonly seen, and I desperately try to teach at least the western settlers not to buy 5 Baht orchids but 150 Baht CITES certified mericlones from the downtown market, but here money is everything. CITES check, the police too, and then the markets go on as usual as soon as they leave. I saw a roadside lady hilltriber selling Paphiopedilums and some epiphytic orchids, and I said that maybe she should not sell them, explaining it was illegal, but she could sell honey and other products. She claimed she found the orchids on the ground- sure the Paphiopedilums are always on (in) the ground. Many of us are fed up with seeing the total destruction, so we think that only fenced private gardens can protect them (underpaid govermental employees steal and sell).

Some people here in Thailand say that the most dangerous item to import/buy is tropical wood, or cooking oil from oil palm trees, or latex rubber, as these products indicate absolute destruction of a forest.

If the UK orchid forum or individual members wish to support our struggle, kindly drop a line at 'Last Days of the Orchids': http://dokmaidogma.wordpress.com/2011/0 ... e-orchids/

...and click 'Like' on our index page: http://www.dokmaigarden.co.th

The more support the easier to negotiate with the Thai authorities.

Thanks, Eric


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:04 am 
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I am in mainland China and the illicit trade in wildlife is just ramped. And I work as a CITES wiki editor posting information and photos about orchids. I have spent near eight years fighting the elect trade of orchids and wild collection.
In the city that I live in it is nothing to see orchids that have been removed from the wild. And many of the sellers will even tell you with a smile on their face. We even found one of many videos that show the wild collectors digging up their find and posting it online for sale.

Ebay is a hub that allows their web site to be used by elect and unrepeatable orchid dealers. It is nothing to see an orchid dealer that writes In order to avoid CITES/Phyto sanitary papers or customs inspection, the shipping box will be marked Toy, scarf, shirt, socks. Or the orchid flask dealers that say this is a rare species of orchids and are CITES exempt; and then state "we will ship the seedlings out of flask".

Try to contact Ebay to report this illegal activity; they just don’t care they make a profit from the sale legal or illegal. Many of these dealers can now be found operating in orchid forums (orchid for sale).
I tried to publish a paper about elicit orchid trade and Chinese traditional medicine, and how they give orchids trade names to avoid being detected by customs or CITES. Bottom line every publisher refused to publish it. A couple even went as far to say the bad guys would pay to have you hurt or killed for trying to stop their business.

I have contacted the CITES, FBI, Interpol, and each country CITES representative. I am lucky if I get a 10 percent response rate.

The International Phalaenopsis Association will publish an article in late August about the Orchid Conservatory and Research Center and the end it will show an elicit orchid dealer and the wild collected Paphiopedilums like Paph. appletonianum, Paph. armeniacum, Paph. barbigerum, Paph. bellatulum, Paph. concolor she was selling. It took near a year before she would let me video her and after I sent it off to CITES in China it took another eight months to shut her down.

We must keep fighting if we are going to make a change and protect wild orchids.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:42 am 
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Shame really as most of the listed plants are readily available from reputable growers here in Europe. Often as named cultivars.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:34 pm 
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It used to be relatively easy to import species orchids legally, the paperwork was a pain but not so expensive, since the prices went up considerably, i'm sure this has had probably encouraged more illegal ebay type transactions!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:41 pm 
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Thinking about availability of CITES Appendix I Orchids. Wouldn't it be much cheaper and more effective to subsidise 'authorised' growers in The EU and US (wherever the trade makes its money) to flood the market with cheaper and legal alternatives? I know that 'the bureaucracy' wouldn't like the idea but if there is no money in the trade then surely it ceases to be worthwhile. If I can get a local, subsidised, Laelia jongheana (lobata or whatever Orchid is in trouble) for much less than it costs someone to go out and tear them out of trees, transport them to Europe and add on a good profit throughout the chain then surely this element of their extinction will stop.

I'm not trying to subsidise Orchid growing here. One jongheana, if I wanted one, would be enough. Just seems to me that if one were serious about stopping illegal trading then removing the profit motive is the only way to go.

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Anyone got a bit of Rhynchostele (Amparoa, Lemboglossum, Odontoglossum ...??) cervantesii that needs a new home?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:46 pm 
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HUD357 wrote:
Thinking about availability of CITES Appendix I Orchids. Wouldn't it be much cheaper and more effective to subsidise 'authorised' growers in The EU and US (wherever the trade makes its money) to flood the market with cheaper and legal alternatives? I know that 'the bureaucracy' wouldn't like the idea but if there is no money in the trade then surely it ceases to be worthwhile. If I can get a local, subsidised, Laelia jongheana (lobata or whatever Orchid is in trouble) for much less than it costs someone to go out and tear them out of trees, transport them to Europe and add on a good profit throughout the chain then surely this element of their extinction will stop.

I'm not trying to subsidise Orchid growing here. One jongheana, if I wanted one, would be enough. Just seems to me that if one were serious about stopping illegal trading then removing the profit motive is the only way to go.


I think a lot of the trade is local, not neccesarily for export, people go to the local market and buy wild orchids for less than a quid and put them in their gardens, if they die they go and buy some more. At oeast thats what i see in thailand.

You can buy legally grown orchids for a few dollars, or less, in thailand and theres few places you could grow them as quickly or as cheaply. Most of the cost therefore when you buy them in the UK is shipping, import duties etc, handling and the distributors/sellers margins. So a vanda in thailand for 2 quid is 30 quid or more in the UK. I doubt that its the growing of them you need to subsidise.

How much does it cost to produce a phal in holland? Probably its a few tens of pence.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:50 pm 
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In mainland China the poorer areas; many people make way less than one US dollar a day. So how to make any extra money is always on their minds. They live in isolated areas and can’t grow enough crops to sale or can’t sale them for the city price.

So they learn that orchids can are worth money and they have a wealth of them growing wild in their area. So they go out and remove them and sale them by the kilo for about 3 to 5 US dollars a kilo. Then the buyer who is a broker goes and sales them to the dealers in the city for the whole sale price and the dealers sale them for the retail price.

The same thing going on in many countries today. The poor have little to no education it’s the buyers who go out and ask these local villagers to go and hunt for these orchids. Because they know that the villagers want to make more money; just like the city people.

I live in a upscale high-rise community and I can look out my window and watch people go dig in trash cans to get bottles, paper, cardboard…………ect to sale for extra money. I see people who live in million Chinese dollar villas doing this too.
Vietnam, Cambodia smugglers are driving commercial truck loads of orchids for the traditional Chinese medicine market by the ton. All are taken from the wild but so long as people get their cut of the money they don’t stop it. In fact many people with authority positions look to find out who are doing it and black mail them for a cut buy threating to stop them.

So how could a reputable grower compete against this, it is just not possible, a green house plant will always cost more than taking one from the wild?

We at the OCRC believe that in approximately ten years Asian many wild orchids will be near or at extinction. The wild collection is just unsustainable and fighting this problem would expose many people in government positions. This is why many people come up missing, jailed, deported and severely beaten. This is the normal punishment in many of the countries with the problem of illicit trade for anyone who tries to fight the problem.

It cost time and money to fight this; and it is in short supply to none supply. I was working with the UN directory of ESCAPS about this problem and not one country with the problem would allocate any money. Many said that we are handling it and you foreigners should not get involved in our politics.

So we that are concerned about this and living in these countries simply do what we can with what we got. Try to educate the collectors about their actions will cause many species to go extinct. The buyers we try to expose them as greedy low lives.
And try to educate the orchid growers in how to better operate their businesses to increase their profits.

Micro propagation of orchids is slow and costly so they don’t think it is economical; this is my hardest problem to convince them that micro propagation is sustainable in the long run.

To be honest; fighting this I feel like I am aging in dog years, but don’t stop until your heart does right.

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