Forests, Fish and Wildlife
Ground Hemlock (Taxus) Information Centre
The reputed medicinal and healing properties of Ground Hemlock were known to the earliest settlers to Prince Edward Island. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies became interested in this small forest plant for its ability to produce a variety of cancer fighting agents. Specifically, they were interested in the twigs and foliage of the plant which they collected and refined to extract the desired chemicals.
By the mid 2000s, demand for the plant became so intense that private land owners and public land managers began to express serious concerns about theft, trespass, and unsustainable harvest practices. Government responded by asking the Public Forest Council to look into the issue. In 2004 they issued a Report on Ground Hemlock Harvesting which recommended mandatory training and licensing of commercial harvesters and buyers, standards for the sustainable harvest of the plant and a number of matters related to record keeping.
The province responded to the PFC report by issuing a Land Owners Guide to Selling Ground Hemlock. In 2006, Ground Hemlock Regulations were implemented under the Wildlife Conservation Act creating a Ground Hemlock Harvest Season and requiring mandatory training and licensing of commercial harvesters and buyers, sustainable harvest practices, and record keeping.
Ground Hemlock Training, Licensing and Reporting:
Training programs for new Ground Hemlock Buyers and Harvesters are now offered by companies involved in the commercial harvest of Taxus on PEI. Anyone interested in taking training and becoming licensed should contact a Ground Hemlock Buyer or a Ground Hemlock buying company in their area.
People with an existing Ground Hemlock Harvester's license can renew their license by completing the Ground Hemlock Harvesters License Renewal Form and submitting the form and a copy of their old licence or certificate to any Access PEI office. Ground Hemlock Buyers who want to renew their existing licence must contact the Department of Environment, Energy, and Forestry for information on how to proceed.
In order to comply with these regulations, all registered and licensed ground hemlock buyers must complete and submit a Ground Hemlock Buyers Report on a semi annual basis.
Land Owner Exemption:
Land owners who harvest on their own lands and can prove ownership are exempted from the training and licensing requirements but they must still meet the sustainable harvest standards before buying stations can purchase the material. Owners are also required to provide a current property tax bill for the harvest property as well as a recognized photo ID to the buying station. This information will be recorded and submitted to the Department.
Information Sharing with Canada Revenue Agency - MOU:
In 2008, the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry and the Canada Revenue Agency signed a Ground Hemlock Harvest MOU designed to improve cooperation between both levels of government in terms of the monitoring and enforcement of legislation and regulations related to the commercial ground hemlock industry.