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[APD] Collecting in foreign countries

Before anyone gets too carried away with running to a foreign land such as Borneo or Malaysia you'd better look into all the details of getting those plants.  I'm a professional botanist and I regularly (1-2x per year) go to SE Asia to collect plants for my research.  Indonesia and Malaysia have become much tougher to collect plants in, even for researchers.  You need permits to collect and the government in those countries isn't that keen on giving them out.  In the past it was common to try and stay under the radar (i.e. just go and get the plants and keep quiet about it), but US customs now requires export permits from the country of origin (not just a USDA import permit).  You also need to know the species you collected.  Cryptocoryne sp. won't cut it.  In fact, I know of several botanists that are world experts in their groups of plants that bring back new, undescribed species (e.g. Cryptocoryne sp. nov.) and have nothing but problems because Ag inspectors here absolutl!
 y require
 a species name.  The fact that one literally does not exist for that new species does not matter.

Some countries such as Thailand are a little easier to get permission to collect, but it still is a hassle to get the export permit.  And anywhere you go you will probably have to stay out of National Parks.  Sounds easy, but in many places there is very little good habitat outside of protected areas.  As for some of the best places like Brazil and India, it is next to impossible to get the necessary permits.  Even professional researchers with legitimate and completely non-commercial reasons to collect plants are unable, almost across the board, to get permission to collect.

On top of everything else, make 100% certain NO soil whatsoever, nor any insect or disease damage, is on any plant.  No matter what permits you have Ag inspectors in the US will destroy at least that plant and probably your entire shipment if any of that is found.  The soil issue is easier for aquatic plant types to deal with, but it is still an issue.

It used to be that no one really cared what you took out of a country or brought into the US (as long as it wasn't a noxious weed or pest ridden) but times have changed over the last two decades.  And since 9/11 it is even tougher.

I'm not saying it is impossible (though if anyone can get plants out of Brazil legally I'd love to hear about it), but it certainly takes a lot of planning and work to do it.  If you want to do a foreign collecting trip I certainly applaud you (the absolute best part of my job is travelling to exotic countries and collecting plants in the forests there).  You just need to be well aware of the procedures and difficulties involved in doing so.




Message: 4
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 21:47:25 -0500 (EST)
From: "Richard J. Sexton" 
Subject: [APD] I wanna go to Borneo
To: aquatic plants digest 

>There are also trips to Amazon for those with more resources.
>I am more inclined to want to go to Malayasia/Borneo/Sumatra for Crypts and
>plants I cannot get.

Sounds like fun but in the meantime anybody know anybody in Borneo that
has internet, hmm? But I'm up for an Asian Crypt trip and have a greater
propensity to do so the closer to mid winter it gets.

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