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Protected plants

In Queensland, all plants that are native to Australia are protected plants under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to prevent whole plants or protected plant parts from being illegally removed from the wild or illegally traded. Regarding the protection of native animals refer to the species management program.

Clearing, growing, harvesting and trading of protected plants in Queensland is regulated by the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 (PDF).

Clearing protected plants

Is the area to be cleared in a high risk area?

Before you can clear protected plants you must check the flora survey trigger map to see if the proposed clearing is in a high risk area. The flora survey trigger map identifies high risk areas. These are areas where endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants (EVNT plants) are known to exist or are likely to exist. The flora survey trigger map is the key management tool for the protection of EVNT plants from being wrongly cleared and to provide greater clarity over when clearing is exempt from requiring a permit.

If the area is high risk, you need to complete a flora survey to determine if EVNT plants are present. If your flora survey doesn’t find any EVNT plants are located within the clearing impact area, or that the clearing can avoid (by 100m) all EVNT plants within that area, you must provide the flora survey report with an exempt clearing notification form attached at least one week before clearing starts. This allows time for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to review the flora survey report and advise you if it meets flora survey guideline (PDF, 401K) requirements. If the survey report is satisfactory, the department will provide a receipt acknowledging submission of the exempt clearing notification and clearing can commence.

The flora survey report cannot be submitted more than 12 months after completion of the flora survey.

Clearing of least concern plants is generally exempt from requiring a clearing permit. Special least concern plants are also exempt in most circumstances. Special least concern plants are least concern plants that are restricted for harvest and use as they are either commercially valuable or are known to have sensitive reproductive biology, rendering them more susceptible to threats and increased harvesting pressure. Special least concern plants are listed in schedule 3A of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

When a permit is needed for an area that isn’t high risk

A clearing permit is required if the area is not identified as high risk and you are aware, or become aware, before the clearing commences that there are EVNT plants within the area being cleared or within 100m of the area being cleared.

The Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 also provides industry specific exemptions for clearing protected plants:

Further information on clearing protected plants:

Harvesting and growing

Plant harvesters and recreational and commercial growers can harvest, grow and trade many of Queensland’s native plants without a licence. The Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 also allows harvesting of endangered, vulnerable and near threatened species and special least concern species (collectively referred to as ‘restricted plants’) where it can be demonstrated to be sustainable.

The protected plants regulatory framework applies only to harvesting (or collecting) protected plants, not to harvesting commercial timber or plants which are not protected.

What is a restricted plant?

All plants that are native to Queensland are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006, restrictions exist on the harvest or use of protected plants that are classified as 'restricted plants'. Restricted plants include plants that are listed under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants, and plants listed as special least concern.

What is a special least concern plant?

This is a category of protected plants that includes those species that are likely to be subject to increased harvesting pressure due to their commercial and recreational demand, and the nature of their growth and reproduction (e.g. small or slow growing species, species that produce limited seed). A full list of special least concern plants can be found in Schedule 3A of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

When a licence is needed

You may need a protected plant licence to harvest protected plants in the wild. When applying for a protected plant licence, you must be able to prove that the proposed harvest is ecologically sustainable.

You need a Protected plant harvesting licence (Word, 252K)* for the sustainable harvest of restricted whole plants and plant parts.

You need a Protected plant growing licence (Word, 254K)* for the sustainable harvest of restricted whole plants and plant parts specifically for propagation and cultivation purposes.

You must submit a sustainable harvest plan with an application for a protected plant harvesting licence. You may need to submit a sustainable harvest plan for a protected plant growing licence. The sustainable harvest plan must meet the requirements of the Protected plants assessment guidelines (PDF, 205K) and demonstrate that the harvest of restricted plants from the wild is sustainable.

If you are granted a licence, you must:

  • comply with the applicable sustainable harvest plan
  • keep protected plant harvest records
  • attach protected plant harvest labels to any restricted plants or plant parts harvested.

Further information on harvesting and growing protected plants:

Code of practice

All harvesting—whether or not a licence is required—must comply with the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants, except in the circumstances specified under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006.

The code provides standards for people involved in harvesting, keeping and using protected plants in Queensland.

The code also lists quantities of restricted plant parts (other than endangered plants) that may be taken without a licence.


Trade in protected plants is not licensed. It is regulated through the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants. Under this code, if you are involved in the trade of native plants you must demonstrate that the plants are sourced and traded legitimately. This is done through self-regulated record keeping supported by a system of trade labels and official plant tags and allows protected plants to be tracked through the harvesting and trade process from source to point of sale.

You need to keep a protected plant trade record if you:

  • use or move a restricted plant for trade
  • harvest a restricted plant under an exemption or a protected plant licence for use in trade.

The protected plant trade record must comply with the code of practice and must be kept in a written or electronic record system.

You must attach a protected plant trade label to a restricted plant or plant part used or moved for trade, or propagated or cultivated for trade. The label must include the information stated in the code of practice and must be attached to the restricted plant (or attached as close as possible to a whole plant), bundle of plant parts or container of plant parts.          

An official tag supplied by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection must also be attached to a whole restricted plant harvested from the wild, to demonstrate lawful harvest of the plant. The official tag must remain with the plant during trade.

Assessment guidelines

The Protected plants assessment guidelines (PDF, 205K) will guide you through the application requirements for a protected plant licence or permit. These guidelines provide clear and transparent guidance about considering an application under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 for a protected plant authority. Applications are required to take protected plants in the course of clearing, growing and harvesting activities in Queensland.

Landholder flora survey access approval tool.

The Landholder access approval tool (Word, 195K)*is a non-compulsory tool designed to help clients summarise landholder access approvals when undertaking flora surveys under the Protected Plant Framework, Nature Conservation Act, 1992. When signed, this tool can also be used as a proof of access (so long as all original landholder approval documents are retained and can be provided upon request).

When is a protected plant 'in the wild'?

In Queensland, all plants that are native to Australia are regarded as ‘protected plants’ under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (the Act). The Act regulates the taking, keeping and use of protected plants (whole plants and plant parts) ‘in the wild’.

Under the Act, a protected plant clearing permit, growing licence or harvesting licence may be required to take a protected plant that is ‘in the wild’—defined in the Act as ‘in an independent state of natural liberty’. If a native plant does not fall within this definition, an authority or permission is not required under the Act for the taking of that plant.

A number of factors may contribute to determining whether a protected plant is ‘in the wild’. For guidance, please refer to the operational policy (PDF, 196K).

* Requires Microsoft Office files viewer

Last updated
31 May 2016