Preventing the release into the wild of certain plants and animals: guidance

Guidance on section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which prevents the wild release of certain plants and animals in England and Wales.

Applies to England and Wales



The purpose of section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (‘the Act’) is to prevent the release into the wild of certain plants and animals which may cause ecological, environmental, or socio-economic harm.

To achieve this section 14 prohibits the introduction into the wild of any animal of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in and is not a regular visitor to Great Britain in a wild state, or any species of animal or plant listed in Schedule 9 of the Act.

Schedule 9 lists non-native species that are already established in the wild, which continue to pose a conservation threat to native biodiversity and habitats, so that further releases should be regulated. Schedule 9 also includes some native species (for example, the barn owl) in order to provide a level of control to ensure that releases, in particular re-introduction programmes, are carried out in an appropriate manner and biodiversity is properly safeguarded.

This document represents the views of Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government on the meaning of key elements that make up the offences in section 14. It does not represent a definitive interpretation of the law. It is not exhaustive on each issue but it is intended as guidance for enforcement agencies, licensing authorities and other interested parties in England and Wales.

Updates to this page

Published 26 May 2011

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