10 questions for Defra to answer on plant imports

10 questions for Defra to answer on plant imports

Introduction to Plant Imports

The importation of plants is a complex and multifaceted issue and one that the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for managing and overseeing. The decision to approve or reject the importation of plants can have a range of implications both ecologically and economically, and the issues around it are often very nuanced. Here, we present that further our knowledge and understanding of the process and how they implement their decisions.

Question 1: What robust risk assessment process is undertaken?

The assessment and management of the risks associated with plant imports is a huge, integral part of the decision-making process by Defra. A thorough and robust risk assessment process guarantees that the most informed and appropriate decisions are made when weighing up the acceptance or rejection of an importation of plants. What specific risk assessment process is Defra undertaking and what measures are taken to ensure that the process is rigorous and reliable?

Question 2: How are decisions made in the event of conflicting advice?

The decisions that Defra makes regarding plant imports are often the result of input from many different parties. As such, differences of opinion and conflicting advice is inevitable. In situations such as this, how is Defra making decisions? How much leeway is given to individual opinions, and when is a consensus necessary?

Question 3: What is the impact of climate change on the import process?

Climate change is having a profound and wide-ranging effect on the planet – and this extends to the import process of plants. What risks or opportunities does climate change present to the import process, and how is Defra addressing them? What provisions are being made to account for the effects of climate change and how is that factor being considered when import decisions are made?

Question 4: What research is Defra conducting into new species?

Our understanding of ecology and our ability to assess risks associated with new species is always growing and evolving. What research is Defra undertaking in order to stay up to date with the latest information and ensure their decisions are as informed as possible? What plans are in place to update the risk assessment process and methods used?

Question 5: What approaches are taken to reduce the risk of invasive species?

Invasive species can cause significant harm both to local ecology and to economics, so approaching the issue with a view to reduce the risk of them becoming established is hugely important. What approaches are taken by Defra to reduce the risk of invasive species and contain their spread? Is this approach evidence-based, and to what extent is Defra collaborating with other organisations in their approach?

Question 6: What information is supplied when requesting an import for plants?

The process of requesting an import for plants is detailed and there is often a large amount of information that must be supplied to Defra in order to gain approval. What information is requested in order to assess an import, and how is Defra’s risk assessment process applied to this information?

Question 7: How are taxes and fees applied?

The process of importing plants can incur fees and taxes, and this can significantly affect the economics of importing. How are taxes and fees applied to imports, and is there any flexibility in the process based on the specifics of an import?

Question 8: What provisions are made for the acceptance of donations?

In some cases, donations of plants may be accepted in lieu of imports. What provisions are made for the acceptance of donations, and how is the import process affected? What information is required for donations, and what is the process for assessing the suitability and risk of accepting donations?

Question 9: How are changes in the industry monitored?

The plant import industry is constantly evolving, with new developments and technology being adopted that further our understanding and allows us to assess and manage risk more effectively. How is Defra monitoring these changes and ensuring that their assessment process is adapting and remaining up to date?

Question 10: What sources of information is Defra using?

In order to make informed decisions, it is necessary to use the best sources of information possible. What sources are being used by Defra to assess the risk associated with importing plants and make decisions?


The importation of plants is a complex process and one that requires careful consideration and assessment. By presenting , we have further our understanding of the process, the risks and opportunities associated with it, and how Defra is implementing their decisions. By having this knowledge, we can better appreciate the seriousness with which Defra treats plant imports and its aim to promote the best outcomes for both the environment and the economy. Imported plants and flowers have long been a beloved and welcomed addition to the world of horticulture. However, confusion surrounding the import of plants and flowers into the UK has long been an issue, and many individuals and companies are calling for clarity from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

As part of the ongoing discussions, here are 10 questions that are being asked of Defra regarding imported plants and flowers into the UK:

1. What concrete steps is Defra taking to ensure that imported plants meet the required levels of biosecurity and safety?

2. What specific plans does Defra have to ensure that pests and diseases are kept out of imported plants?

3. Will Defra be introducing tougher penalties for those found to be importing plants without the necessary health certificates?

4. How will Defra ensure that non-native species are not brought into the country, which could have a detrimental effect on our native flora?

5. Are there plans to introduce tougher legislation to protect our native plants and habitats?

6. What protocols are in place to inspect imported plants so that they are free from contamination?

7. How will Defra address the issue of non-compliance with plant import requirements in terms of education and outreach initiatives?

8. What support will Defra provide to smaller, independent growers of imported plants who cannot afford the cost of health certificates?

9. How will Defra ensure that inspections of imported plants are regularly carried out and not just sporadic?

10. How can the public be encouraged to purchase British-grown plants and flowers and not imported alternatives?

Defra has long been the primary enforcer of legislation for the import of plants and flowers into the UK. With such a wide range of considerations to make and questions to answer, it is essential Defra is clear and concise with its actions regarding imported plants. It is hoped that these questions are adequately addressed to guarantee the continued success of the UK horticulture industry.