You can download the Horticulture Code of Practice parent document from the following link:

Introduction to the Code

The economies of Ireland and Northern Ireland depend to a large extent on the cultivation of many non-native (alien) plants which have been introduced for horticultural and agricultural purposes. Most of these non-native plants are beneficial to humans and do not cause problems through becoming weedy or invasive. However, a small percentage of these introductions, or species associated with soil, growing media or the plants themselves, escape from cultivation, become naturalised and invade ecosystems, impacting on biodiversity and ecosystem services. These species, which are known as Invasive Species, may have significant ecological or economic consequences or become harmful to human health.

Invasive species are estimated to cost the European economy in excess of €12 Billion per annum1. In most European countries, the rate of new introductions has risen steadily in recent decades and is still increasing for all taxonomic groups except mammals. While not all of these species will become invasive, it is important to put in place mechanisms to prevent the introduction and spread ones that do.

Ornamental horticulture is recognised as one of the main pathways of plant invasions worldwide. Since ornamental plant species are the largest pool for non-native species that subsequently become invasive, there is clearly a need to adopt a more risk-based approach, based on good scientific research, to try and avoid the undesirable consequences of the importation of new ornamental species whose invasive potential is unknown or is known from experience in other countries.

To help stop the spread and introduction of invasive species associated with horticultural activities, a Code of Good Practice was developed by Invasive Species Ireland, a jointly funded initiative between the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the industry. This Code was published in 2008 and promoted voluntary measures aimed at reducing and limiting the spread of invasive species known to be associated with the horticultural industry. Since the time of producing the Code there have been many developments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and at an EU level that have a bearing on the industry and how this Code operates. For example, in 2009, The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) and the Council of Europe jointly drafted and published the Code of Conduct on Horticulture and Invasive Alien Plants.

Aims and Status of this Code of Good Practice

This Code is voluntary. As with the previous Code, it aims to promote good practice that, if followed carefully, will help to ensure compliance with legislation and prevent the spread and introduction of invasive species in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The aims of this Code includes highlighting the problems invasive species can cause and to advise all those involved in horticulture (from supply to end-use) what practical steps they can take to help reduce the risk of spread, minimise their impact and prevent introductions of new invasive species.

It is recognised that many non-native plants do not become invasive nor cause problems. Indeed, the horticulture industry would not be as successful, and the private and public gardens so beautiful and varied, in Ireland and Northern Ireland without the vast array of non-native plants that have been imported and cultivated. This Code does not aim to stop trade in these plants. However, by setting out good practice for all those involved in horticulture, it does aim to prevent the further spread of established invasive species into our landscapes and natural habitats, where they can become a danger to the environment and costly to control. This code also sets out good practice to prevent the introduction of invasive species that are not currently known to be established in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Target audience

This Code applies to all plant producers, nurseries, wholesalers, garden centres and retailers of plants. It also is directed at those who are commissioning and recommending plants such as landscapers, landscape architects, local authorities and those with responsibilities for parks, properties and land, including State Agencies, Government Departments and Local Government.

Geographic coverage

The Code covers both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland