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Detailed guide: Work with planting material for forestry purposes

Forestry Commission

December 23
08:40 2019

If you collect and market seeds, cones, cuttings or planting stock for use in forest establishment, or collect seed and grow it in order to sell as planting stock to be used in forest establishment, there are rules applying to 46 controlled tree species that you must follow. You must be on the Forestry Commissions Forest Reproductive Material public register of suppliers - its free to register, find out how to register below.

See the list of controlled species (PDF, 913KB, 2 pages)

Theres also a voluntary scheme for the certification of non-controlled species of native trees and shrubs to help collect further valuable information - see below.

Read the detailed policy document that includes information on the regulations that cover FRM and controlled species (PDF, 6.81MB, 40 pages).

The Forestry Commission is responsible for a system of identification and control of seeds, cuttings and planting stock used for forestry purposes in England, Scotland and Wales so that the people who buy forest material have enough information on the provenance, origin and genetic quality of the material theyre buying.

The system covers basic material (see below) used for any forestry purpose, including:

  • timber production
  • forests and woodlands for tourism, recreational, sporting, educational or amenity purposes
  • the conservation and enhancement of the forest and woodland environment

The term forestry purposes excludes:

  • landscape planting for transport infrastructure
  • urban planting associated with industrial and urban developments
  • production of Christmas trees

Basic material and forest reproductive material

The term basic material refers to the sources of FRM. There are 6 sources of basic material:

  • seed sources - these can range from a single tree to any collection of trees within a region of provenance, or a native seed zone that includes an altitude band above or below 300m
  • stands - defined areas or groups of trees with identified boundaries
  • seed orchards and parents of tree families - sources based on known individuals derived from tree breeding programmes (and the FRM produced will be seeds)
  • clones and clonal mixtures - individuals from breeding programmes, but the FRM will be produced through vegetative propagation

FRM can consist of:

  • fruits
  • seeds
  • cones
  • all parts of plants obtained by vegetative propagation, including embryos and plants produced from any of these

You can only market FRM from registered basic material. There are 4 categories of reproductive material according to the basic material you collect it from:

  • source-identified FRM comes from general or specific locations within a single region of provenance or native seed zone with an altitude band, but with no specific superior qualities recognised
  • selected FRM is collected from stands showing superior characteristics (for example, better form, growth rate and health)
  • qualified FRM derives from the selection of superior individual trees that have not undergone any form of testing
  • tested FRM derives from the selection of individual trees or stands that have been evaluated for genetic quality or, in comparison to accepted standards, have been shown to be superior

National Register of Approved Basic Material

The Forestry Commission maintains the National Register of Approved Basic Material for Great Britain (The National Register). This is published in accordance with the Forest Reproductive Material (Great Britain) Regulations 2002 and European Union directive 1999/105/EC, which controls the marketing of Forest Reproductive Material in the EU.

Download and search the National Register spreadsheet (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 518KB). The link on the right-hand column of the spreadsheet (NR entry) will then take you to a 2-page PDF showing stand, location, contact and site information, together with a map.

Or you can use the search facility to find:

The National Register is kept under constant review and will be regularly updated. The version available is current as at December 2019.

Apply to register basic material

You can only apply for registration on the national register of approved basic material if youre the owner or authorised agent, or a person with written authority from the owner.

Download and submit form FRM1A to apply for the registration of a stand or orchard as an approved source of basic material.

The Forestry Commission may want to inspect the basic material and check all relevant information. Applications to register stands in the Selected category and applications to register Indigenous stands will always be inspected to ensure they meet the relevant criteria. If the Forestry Commission accepts your proposed material, you will receive a copy of the register entry, including a unique register identity.

Once you have Forestry Commission approval of basic material, you must keep copies of all documents relatingto the application. You must keep these documents for 5 years from the date of your application or for as long as the basic material is on the national register, whichever is greater.

The Forestry Commission will let you know if your application is rejected and you can make an appeal (see below).

Re-inspection of basic material

Once youve registered, you may need to prepare for a re-inspection of your basic material. The Forestry Commission gives you at least 14 days notice of a proposed site visit. Re-inspection will concentrate on any material changes to the area and structure and composition of the material that could take it below the threshold for that particular category. Reasons for this might be:

  • partial felling
  • windblow
  • disease
  • pest attack
  • thinning operations

You must inform the Forestry Commission of any changes to basic material - this is to prevent marketing of reproductive material that doesnt meet the requirements of the appropriate category. You must also tell the Forestry Commission of any reduction in area of the basic material - or any material change to its composition or stocking - no later than 28 days before a collection of reproductive material. Changes to basic material could mean its either downgraded to a lower category or removed from the national register. This might trigger an inspection.

Register as a supplier of FRM

Check if you should be registered as a supplier - this will help you comply with the regulations.

Download, complete and submit form FRM6 to apply for registration.

You must provide the following details:

  • suppliers name, address and contact details
  • nature of the business or trade in which FRM is marketed
  • each address where you pursue FRM-related activities

The Forestry Commission will always register an application unless the applicant is likely to breach regulations or does not in fact market FRM. Youll be notified within 14 days of a refusal to register.

If the Forestry Commission is satisfied that a registered supplier has breached the regulations, their name may be removed from the register or conditions may be imposed on the continuing registration.

See the register of FRM suppliers (

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