Wild plants face the threat of extinction
Yesterday, the World Wide Fund for Nature pleaded with customers shopping in nurseries and garden centres to shun plants dug from the wild. 'Almost everyone has bought them unwittingly,' said Martin Jenkins, a botanist, who has written a report on the trade.
'Customers have to insist on buying garden and house plants which are cultivated. They have to prod the retailer who, in turn, has to prod the wholesaler.'
Plantlife, the conservation charity, estimates the trade in British wild bulbs is worth about pounds 1m a year. Paul Evans, its former conservation director, believes that some of the bulbs are exported in bulk to the Netherlands, centre of the international trade, then reimported to Britain for sale in garden centres and market stalls.
The diggers put advertisments in local newspapers and magazines inviting landowners to have their bluebells thinned out for a payment. Sometimes they take the wildflowers without permission which, apart from being common theft, is also an offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Earlier this year three men were found guilty of taking 5,000 bluebells from a privately owned wood near Melton Constable, in north Norfolk - the first time a bulb-digging offence had been taken to court. English Nature, the Government's conservation arm, was disappointed at the scale of the sentences; the highest fine was pounds 250 and one of the three was given a three-month suspended sentence.
Norfolk Crown Court was told that the men had a piece of equipment from a bulb wholesaling company, O A Taylor, of Holbeach, Lincolnshire.
Bluebells and snowdrops are not endangered as yet. 'Their ancient woodland and hedgerow habitats have been destroyed on a very large scale in the last 50 years,' Mr Evans said. 'It's a moral issue; we shouldn't dig them up from the wild if they can be cultivated. Once gone it takes decades for them to return.'
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...