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 ENSPA 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:

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





 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. 




 5. Quality

The ENSPA members should aim for the best quality of seed batches. 

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: 

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


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 ENSPA affiliation and Logo

ENSPA 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 ENSPA for approval. This until a clear set of rules is formed about the use of ENSPA affiliation and logo.