Marketing forest reproductive material for forestry purposes

How to market forest reproductive material (FRM) for forestry purposes, including regulations, registration, master certificates and licences.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

If you market Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) to establish forests in England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain), or collect and produce it for later marketing, you must follow certain rules so that:

  • planting stock can be traced back to its source of basic material – for example, the tree from which the seed is collected

  • buyers have information about the product and its genetic quality

The rules apply to 46 tree species and the genus Populus (PDF, 107 KB, 3 pages).

This also applies to those who market or produce FRM for import or export.

Check with the relevant authority in Northern Ireland about its FRM rules.

Supplementary Guidance

FRM Guidance for Northern Ireland

Supplementary Policy Guidance for England

Supplementary Policy Guidance for Scotland

Supplementary Policy Guidance for Wales

FRM system guidance

General Guidance

Basic Material Manager Guidance

FRM Supplier Guidance

Register as a FRM supplier

Only registered suppliers can market FRM. Apply to the Forestry Commission to become an approved supplier of forest reproductive material (FRM).

If you do not comply with regulations you can be removed from the register of FRM suppliers or have conditions imposed.

See the public register of forest reproductive material suppliers.

On 26 October 2021, the Forestry Commission launched a new FRM System which replaces the need to submit physical forms. Please read our guidance for support on how to use the new system.

Register as a Basic Material Manager

Only Basic Material Managers can register Basic Material onto the Register of UK Basic Materials. Apply to the Forestry Commission to become a Basic Material Manager.

See Guidance on registering basic material (PDF, 891 KB, 12 pages).

It is important that the Forestry Commission is informed of any changes to Basic Material to prevent marketing of reproductive material that does not meet the requirements of the appropriate category. Owners must tell the Forestry Commission of any reduction in area of the Basic Material, or any material change to its composition or stocking, no later than 28 days before a collection of reproductive material. Changes to Basic Material can result in its downgrading to a lower category in, or its removal from, the National Register. This may involve inspection.

Join a voluntary certification scheme

If you collect species not covered by the regulations, you can join a voluntary certification scheme. It allows:

  • collectors to certify their native seed collections

  • buyers to trace species from you the same way they can trace regulated (controlled) planting stock

To market species on the voluntary list you must follow the same procedures as for controlled species.

Register as a supplier and follow the same notification and application process for seed collection and certification.


FRM can consist of:

  • fruits

  • seeds

  • cones

  • all parts of a plant obtained by vegetative propagation, including embryos, and plants produced from any of these

Forestry purposes includes:

  • timber production

  • forests and woodlands for tourism, recreational, sporting, educational or amenity purposes

  • the conservation and enhancement of the forest and woodland environment

The following are not covered by the regulations:

  • landscape planting for transport infrastructure

  • urban planting associated with industrial and urban developments

  • production of Christmas trees

Market FRM from registered basic material

You can only market FRM from the Forestry Commission’s national register of basic material.

Basic material is sourced from:

  • seed sources
  • stands
  • seed orchards
  • parents of tree families
  • clones
  • clonal mixtures

If you’re the owner of the basic material, you, your agent or an authorised person can apply to register basic material for forestry purposes.

How FRM is categorised

FRM is categorised according to the basic material from which it is collected.

Source-identified FRM

This comes from general or specific locations within a single region of provenance and seed zone (PDF, 1.54 MB, 1 page) with an altitude band but no specific superior qualities have been identified.

Selected FRM

This is collected from stands that show superior characteristics, for example, they have very good form, growth rate or health.

Qualified FRM

This comes from the selection of superior individual trees which have not had any form of testing.

Tested FRM

This comes from the selection of individual trees or stands that have been evaluated for genetic quality or exceed minimum standards.

How to collect FRM for marketing

After you have registered as a supplier, you must:

Provide the Forestry Commission with details of:

How to market your collection

You must apply for a master certificate or licence within 9 months of collection or before marketing FRM, whichever is soonest.

A certificate is issued for each single entry in the national register of basic material. It shows information such as:

  • quantity
  • species
  • provenance
  • origin

Each certificate has a unique number to identify that collection.

Seed Testing

In general, all seed which is marketed must be tested for the following:

  • percentage by weight of pure seed, other seed, and inert matter
  • germination percentage of the pure seed, or where this is impractical, the viability percentage
  • weight of one thousand pure seeds
  • number of germinable/viable seeds per kilogram

This information must be on the supplier’s document.  The supplier must also give the date of the seed test.  There is no statutory seed testing year and no requirement to re-test the seed lot each year, or to re-test any smaller lots separated from the original lot.  There must be re-testing after mixing seed lots.

Small quantities of seed as defined in Schedule 11 of the Regulations (available from do not need to be tested for germination percentage of the pure seed or number of germinable/viable seeds per kilogram.

Only seed testing facilities approved by the Forestry Commission can carry out statutory seed testing. See list of approved seed testing facilities.

You must keep master certificates for at least 5 years.

To meets the Regulations, all clones must be individually identifiable and registered as Basic Material in the National Register. To register these collections and apply for Master Certificates, please first contact Stuart A’Hara at to get a License to Market form.

Provide a supplier’s document

When you market seed, or plants grown from material covered by a master certificate, you must give the buyer a supplier’s document on delivery.

You must do this at any stage of the production – it’s not just issued when the original collector markets material.

Use the FRM supplier’s document and example for multifunctional forestry as a template.

Provide a seed certificate

You must also provide a copy of a seed test certificate to the buyer. Only nurseries approved by the Forestry Commission can test seed.

These are currently approved:

Allow Forestry Commission inspections

Forestry Commission inspectors can visit any site or facility where FRM production takes place. You must allow access.

They will check that separation, labelling and mixing of FRM complies with regulations.

You must notify the Forestry Commission:

  • about any changes to basic material within 28 days
  • of the final results of testing basic material given ‘conditional approval’ within 28 days
  • that an agreed production target for the propagation of clonal material has been reached

Keep your documents

All print and digital documents – including books, maps, plans or photographs – should be available for inspection.

You must keep:

  • the notification to the Forestry Commission of the intention to collect FRM and a written record of the owner’s consent
  • master certificates
  • seed testing information
  • supplier’s labels or documents
  • special licences for marketing issued by the Forestry Commission
  • information supplied to the Forestry Commission relating to the movement of FRM
  • plant passports

You should keep master certificates until the FRM to which they relate to no longer exists.

The Forestry Commission will notify you if they need you to keep any other documents.

Import FRM

You can import FRM from countries which the UK recognises its standards and certification schemes as being similar (equivalent).

If you import FRM from any country you need to notify the Forestry Commission.

You will also need to check that the FRM that you are importing is not prohibited under the Plant Health (Phytosanitary Conditions) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Contact the Forestry Commission if you’re not sure if your FRM is allowed.

Export FRM

To export FRM you must check if the country you’re exporting to has any import plant health (phytosanitary) requirements.

You have to follow standard international rules to market FRM from England, Scotland or Wales (Great Britain) in the EU. In most cases, this means that your FRM must be certified under Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules. To understand the requirements, contact the national plant protection organisation of the country you’re exporting to.

If they follow OECD rules, you must request the necessary phytosanitary certificate from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in England and Wales and the Horticultural Marketing Unit in Scotland.

Appeal a Forestry Commission decision

You can appeal any Forestry Commission decision, including:

  • time or production limits placed on the propagation of clones or clonal mixtures
  • refusal to issue a master certificate
  • refusal to register a supplier, or removal of a supplier’s name from the register of suppliers
  • refusal to grant a special licence
  • refusal to approve seed testing practices as internationally acceptable techniques

Contact the Forestry Commission for details on how to appeal as soon as you are notified with a decision.

You must suspend all activities related to the decision and appeal until you know the final outcome of the appeal.

Subscribe to forestry trade news

See the forest reproductive material newsletters to stay informed about any regulatory or legislative changes.

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Updates are automatically sent to registered suppliers. You can opt out if you do not want to receive them.


Direct enquiries about basic material and the national register, the register of suppliers, importing and exporting, FRM regulations and appeals, to the forest reproductive material manager.

For enquiries about seed collection notifications, master certificates, applications and general FRM information, contact FRM admin support.

Plant Health Forestry
Forest Research
Bush Estate
EH25 9SY

Telephone: 07385 419731


Published 26 January 2021
Last updated 5 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Additional attachments added, including 'Creating an account on the FRM system' under General Guidance section, and 'Master certificate application guidance for a seed source collection’ under FRM Supplier Guidance section.

  2. Additional information on registering basic material.

  3. Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) System guidance added to the page.

  4. Updated links to the new forest reproductive material system.

  5. Updated the section "Import FRM".

  6. Updated the register of FRM suppliers and National Register spreadsheet.

  7. First published.