Code of Conduct

European Native Seed Producers Association


Ecosystems degradation, with consequent erosion of ecosystem services and functionality is one of the key environmental and societal issues currently affecting Europe. 

The practice of Ecological Restoration, performed in accordance with the Standards and Principles outlined by the Society of Ecological Restoration, represents the most effective means to re-establish healthy and resilient ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed.  

Most ecological restoration projects of terrestrial ecosystems rely on the reliable supply of high quality native seeds of appropriate local origin, in order to achieve successful outcomes. 

The members of E.N.S.P.A. and its associated organizations are committed to create the conditions necessary for the development of Native Seed Market across all European Countries, so that Native Seed of appropriate local origin is available for Ecological Restoration in the required quantity, quality, and diversity. 

All members must agree to adhere to the definitions and ethical principles outlined hereafter. Practices and behaviours that contravene these principles will result, according to the severity of the breach, in warnings, fines, and ultimately the expulsion from the association. If the breach of these principles by one of the members has caused damage to the reputation and credibility of the association, the association withhold the right to take legal action against the member responsible.

1. Purpose

The purpose of this code of conduct is to:

  • Adhere to biodiversity conservation standards;

  • Promote good practice in the collection, propagation, marketing and sale of native flora (from natural populations of local origin) at the European level, taking in account biogeographical areas inside Europe;

  • Promote the conservation of the genetic diversity (representative of the origin population) of the seed lot through the seed supply chain;

  • Promote the adoption of the “international standards for native seed in ecological restoration” and adaptation to the European native seed supply chain; 

  • Promote the understanding and the sustainable use of native flora by producers, traders, and users of native flora;

  • Promote the growth and development of a sustainable native seed market through European countries;

  • Protect natural plant populations of native flora from unsustainable exploitation;

  • Promote traceability of the native seed supply chain;

  • Promote transparency of native seed suppliers in the marketing and sale of native seeds

2. Definitions

NATIVE, LOCAL OR REGIONAL SEED: A seed batch is considered native, local or regional for a biogeographical area when its origin source material has been collected from a natural indigenous population within the biogeographical area boundary. The terms native, local or regional can only be used with the mention of the biogeographical area concerned. Native, regional and local are considered synonymous. Biogeographical area can be either a country (especially for small countries), smaller areas within a country, or can include areas of neighbouring countries with biogeographical similarities. In countries where seed zones have been defined, seed zones are considered biogeographical areas.

INDIGENOUS SPECIES: species recurring naturally within their area of natural distribution, before the discovery of America (1492). This includes the archaeophytes. (Indigenous species will also be identified in accordance to nationally recognised botanical authorities.)

EXOTIC SPECIES: Species have been introduced or naturalised after 1492, mostly due to human activity.

SEED ORIGIN: Is the area where the seeds have been collected from a natural population. 

SEED PROVENANCE: is the area where the seeds have been propagated in a farm setting.

CULTIVAR OR CULTIVATED VARIETY: Is a group of plant, within a taxa including species, subspecies and varieties, that has been voluntarily selected to manifest specific desired traits. This definition does not refer to the botanical variety as defined in taxonomy.

NATIVE SEED COLLECTION: Action of collecting or harvesting seed from natural populations. 

NATIVE SEED PRODUCTION: Multiplication/propagation in agricultural farm settings of seed collected from natural populations.

SELECTION: In terms of native seed production it means the reduction of the genetic diversity of a seed batch, as a consequence of selective filters at various stages of the seed supply chain. 

INTENTIONAL SELECTION (or breeding): Selection is intentional when certain traits are actively selected by the collectors/producers in order to improve productivity or other desirable traits.  

INVOLUNTARY SELECTION: when selective filters are out of the seed collectors/producers’ control, it is not in the collectors/producer’s intention to select. 

NATIVE SEED COLLECTORS: individuals, companies or organisations that perform seed collection from natural populations either as single species or mix of species, manually or with mechanical harvesters. 

NATIVE SEED PRODUCERS: individuals, companies or organisations that multiply in a farm setting native seeds collected from natural populations. 

NATIVE SEED SUPPLIER and RETAILER: Company that supply native seeds that have been directly collected, produced through cultivation, or obtained by collectors/producers. 

3. Collection of seeds from the wild for farming and sale

  • The members of E.N.S.P.A. are encouraged to rely on seed collection from natural populations mostly for obtaining source material to start seed production in a farm setting. 

  • Seed collection should follow the guidelines outlined by the ENSCONET manual.

  • Direct collection of seeds from the wild for direct sale would be admissible when seed farming is not feasible, or when techniques such as brush harvesting or hay transfer can be performed without damaging the donor site. 

  • E.N.S.P.A. members are responsible to ensure that employers and contractors performing seed collection on their behalf are properly trained and respect the following rules.


  • The collection of seeds from the wild must comply with local, national and international legislation. 

  • Permission from the landowner or other leasee should normally be sought prior to collection.

  • Collection from the wild should be avoided for endangered species or populations where the collection will significantly deplete the population in an area, unless permission for collection is obtained and the collection is performed with scientific guidance and supervision.


  • The collection of seeds should not have a negative impact on the plant populations in the wild or the natural ecosystem functioning. Extra care should be taken when collecting from fragmented populations or species with conservation concerns.

  • The collector should not be collecting more than 20% of the seed resource of the plant population mature at the moment of collection.


  • The collection sampling should be held on a natural and sufficiently large population of representative genetic diversity in its natural range of growth.

  • To adequately represent the genetic diversity of the population, seed should be randomly selected from multiple individuals.  

  • The collector should collect no less than 50 plants in the wild for the constitution of seed batch. 


  • The information regarding the collection (site, date, collector… ) should be recorded and maintained through the seed supply chain. Full data requirements available upon application.

 4. Native seed production in farm settings

Production of native seed in farm settings is performed to multiply the seed batch collected from the natural population taking the necessary precaution to ensure that the genetic diversity of the original batch is preserved as much as possible. 


  • The production of seeds must comply with national and international legislation concerning agronomical practices such as fertilisation, pesticide, etc. 


  • The number of generations reproduced from the original seed batch collected from the natural population should not exceed five before restocking with a newly collected batch from the natural population (annual excluded). 

  • All necessary precautions need to be taken to avoid intentional selection, and limit, as far as feasible, involuntary selection.


  • The number of generations should be recorded. 

  • Traceability of the seed batches should be maintained throughout production.

  • Each seed batch derived from production should be differentiated and identifiable from other seed batches of the same species of different origins and generations. 

  • Each seed batch should be linked to the origin and provenance, and the information made available to the customer on request.

 5. Quality

The E.N.S.P.A. members should aim for the best quality of seed batches. 

  • Seed should be processed to the highest possible degree of purity. 

  • Viability should be ensured by optimal seed processing procedures and storage standards.  

  • As far as practical, seed batches should be tested and information regarding purity (including potential contamination by species that have not been requested) and viability reported to the customer, preferably by stating the Pure Live Seed %.

  • Seed producers are allowed to perform their own seed testing as long as it is clearly communicated to the customer. 

  • Seed testing should follow up to date standards and protocols. 

6. Basic information for sale

All information accompanying a seed lot or seed mix (labels), and further information communicated to the client must be correct and provided in accordance with the principle of transparency


Each member is free to use the labelling system better fit to the company standards or legislative requirement as long as the following basic information are reported: 

  • Seed origin (either location, biogeographical area or seed zone), if origin is unknown it should be specified.

  • Correct species name, (preferably with the scientific Latin name), using standard botanical nomenclature for the species name (and the subspecies name and variety if known).

  • Seed lot weight.

  • For seed mixes the weight, or weight percentage, of each species present in the mix. 

  • For seed mixes, if some species in the mix have different origins, or the origin is unknown, it should be specified. 

Further information that should be documented and made available on request: 

  • Seed lot number (or other reference) that would allow the traceability of the lot history.

  • If the seed lot was produced in farm setting or directly collected from natural population.

  • Year of collection/production.

  • If seed testing is performed, Pure Life Seed percentage or number/g.


For transparency and to ensure traceability, further information should be made available to the client on request. Such information can be extracted from the traceability system or production database. Such information can include: location of cultivation (provenance), number of generations, storage conditions, details on seed quality testing (purity, TSW, germinability, dormancy and treatments).

When the sale includes native seeds (of known origin) and seed of unknown origin or commercial variety it must be clearly indicated. This must also be clear in the catalogue, website, marketing, and any sort of communication.

Examples for single species and mixed-species seed lots labels, and seed lot information can be found in the International principles and standards for native seeds in ecological restoration.

7. Use of E.N.S.P.A. affiliation and Logo

E.N.S.P.A. members are engaged towards the principles outlined in this document. They are allowed to use the ENSPA logo in association to the seed lots that have been collected and/or produced following these principles. Members are required to submit to the Executive Committee (or a committee dedicated to that) the promotional material that they intend to use regarding E.N.S.P.A. for approval. This until a clear set of rules is formed about the use of ENSPA affiliation and logo.




European Native Seed Producers Association

Raumberg 38
Austria - 8952 Irdning-Donnersbachtal

Austrian Association register number 1911215441



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