Conditions of Loan & Exchange

Updated May, 2011
1. Purpose of loans and exchange
2. Negotiation and responsibility
3. Commercial use
4. Liability and suitability for purpose
5. Retention of material
6. Period of loan
7. Security of loan
8. Removal of material, extracts
9. Return of loan and packaging
10. CITES and taxa of conservation significance
11. Photography
12. Annotations
13. Intellectual Property
14. Unpublished and manuscript names
15. Citing specimens
16. Acknowledgement
(Policy on destructive sampling)

1. Purpose of loans and Exchange

a. Specimens are generally available on loan for scientific research in the public interest through activities and procedures that will not endanger the safety and integrity of the specimens as archival objects. The safety and security of the specimens is of prime importance.

b. Loans are made for non-destructive examination of external morphology, gross anatomy, field notes and other annotations, for taxonomic, biogeographic and historic research purposes. Loans for DNA or phytochemical sampling, or for anatomical, palynological, ecological, geographic, ethnobotanical or historical studies, or for display or educative purposes, will be considered if alternative materials are unavailable, and if the proposed use will not involve undue impact on specimens.

c. If any of the loan conditions cannot be met due to local policy or operational requirements, please contact the Curator of the Herbarium to discuss the nature of the difficulty and explore possible alternative arrangements.

2. Negotiation and responsibility for loans

a. Loans are negotiated and made on behalf of botanical institutions and their directors, not by individual researchers. Loans will not be made to individuals and will only be made to destinations where safe and secure transport and storage arrangements exist.

b. Formal requests for loans or samples from voucher specimens, should be made in writing or email to the Curator of the Herbarium ( by the head of a recognised botanical institution on behalf of the researcher. The head of the borrowing institution will take responsibility for the security, documentation and safe return of all specimens, and for adherence to the conditions of the loan. Loans will not be dispatched until these conditions are agreed to.

c. Requests for loans or vouchered samples should include the following information:

i. the names of researchers on whose behalf the loan is made;
ii. the nomenclatural and taxonomic scope of the work;
iii. the geographic or regional scope of the work;
iv. the relationship of the work to other projects (e.g. national or regional floras or checklists);
v. an outline of any commercial arrangements bearing upon the use of the material.

3. Use of material for commercial purposes

a. Use of loan or exchange specimens in projects of a commercial nature requires separate and specific permission. 'Commercial purposes' does not include the sale of research-derived publications that are in the public domain. It does include the sale, or transfer or transmission (other than for public-domain research), of unpublished information (e.g. lists or databases of specimen or taxon attributes) or images, to third parties.

b. If the project has commercial aspects, we would like to know:

i. the scope of project
ii. the parties involved
iii. the sources of funding
iv. any provisions for intellectual property
v. any provisions for commercial-in-confidence material

c. We will require separate negotiation and written agreement with all parties before loan or exchange material may be used for commercial purposes. A separate Materials Transfer Agreement is required where commercial development of derivatives of herbarium specimens, and other biological material, is anticipated.

4. Liability and suitability for purpose

a. Specimens and data supplied on loan or exchange, or in response to requests for samples, is provided in good faith for research purposes. No warranties or assurances of reliability, suitability or fitness for a particular purpose of specimens or data are offered. Assessment of suitability of such material and data for intended use is the responsibility of receiving institutions or researchers.

b. No responsibility or liability is accepted for the identity, locality or other data associated with these specimens.

5. Retention of material

a. Loan requests may be declined, in whole or in part, if the Curator considers the request excessive, disruptive or incompatible with existing or proposed herbarium programs, or feels that specimens might be subject to misuse, damage or deterioration. The quantity of outstanding loans at the borrowing institution will be taken into account when new loans are requested.

b. Normally, entire holdings of taxa are not lent and borrowers are encouraged to provide a list of specimens they have seen already so that these can be excluded from the loan. Occasionally, a special case can be made for borrowing duplicate material.

c. Normally, representative sheets of a taxon will be withheld from a loan and retained for reference purposes; if necessary these can be borrowed when the primary loan is returned.

d. Type specimens, material preserved in liquid, separate fruits and woodblocks, dissection cardsand other supplementary material will not be sent on loan unless specifically requested or when no other material is available.

6. Period of Loan

a. The normal loan period is 12 months, but an extension may be granted upon written request.

b. Loans should be returned in their entirety as soon as possible after the completion of study.

c. Partial returns of loans are acceptable and should be negotiated with the Curator of the Herbarium.

7. Security of Loan

a. Loan specimens must not be removed from the receiving institution except by written permission of the lending institution. The head of any institution to which a loan is transferred must accept responsibility in the terms of these conditions.

b. Loans must be stored under secure protective conditions. Sheets or packets should not be bent, folded, or handled in any way likely to cause detriment to the specimens. Except during actual examination, specimens should remain in their original folders or packets. The original folders and packets must be returned with specimens.

c. In the event of damage to a specimen, a signed slip must be attached providing details of the damage.

d. The lending institution should be consulted if the loan is likely to be subject to any special fumigation or treatment with persistent chemicals, microwaving or irradiation. If the specimens are treated, a slip detailing the date, nature, dose and duration of treatment should be affixed to each specimen.

e . Specimens loaned for display purposes must be housed under the following conditions:

  • Temperature of 20°C or less with <5% variance
  • Relative humidity of 50% or less with <5% variance
  • Low light levels with a maximum of 50 lux
  • Enclosed in a secure cabinet safe from excess handling and insect damage
  • Displayed on a flat surface (may be slightly raised to enable viewing)
  • Display period for any one specimen of no longer than three months at any one time
  • No material is to be removed from any loan specimen for display purposes

8. Removal of material, extracts

(see also Policy on Destructive Sampling from Herbarium Specimens)

a. Removal and dissection of parts of loan specimens, and extraction of pollen, spores, DNA or phytochemicals, from normal dried specimens and from specimens preserved in liquid is permitted for descriptive research purposes. This must be done judiciously and only when the tissue or organ concerned is in sufficient quantity on a specimen to leave similar material intact.

b. Material removed for study should be reattached to the specimen in an archival packet, or placed on the specimen packet, box or spirit container.

c. Particular restraint must be exercised when dissecting Type specimens or intended Types.

d. Removal of material from under tape on dissection cards is not permitted.

e. Portions removed from dried specimens may be rehydrated but must then be thoroughly air-dried, placed in an archival packet with a slip bearing the collector name and number, or the sheet registration number, and reattached to the sheet or replaced in the specimen packet or box.

f. Fragments removed from spirit material should not be allowed to dry out and should be replaced in the same container as soon as possible following study.

g. No material or extracts may be removed from loan specimens for permanent retention or for transmission to any third party without written permission from the Curator of the Herbarium. Where permission is granted, slips indicating the type of material removed, by whom at what institution, the date and the general nature of the project, should be attached to the sheet or container, or included in the box or packet.

h. The following classes of material must not be made available to any third parties without written permission and a separate Materials Transfer Agreement from the lending institution:

i. specimens, or fragments of specimens (taken from loans or supplied separately), or
ii. derived material (eg: aliquots, extracts), or
iii. images, or
iv. formulae or synthetic pathways for substances originally derived from specimens on loan

9. Return of loan and packaging

a. For its return a loan should be sent by traceable mail, and carefully packaged to prevent damage in transit.

b. Specimens should be securely packed and prominently labelled; using the original packing materials is preferred.

c. Original specimen folders and specimen packets are to be returned with the specimens.

d. When returning loan material to Australia, there must be a label on the outside of the packaging stating:
  "Herbarium Specimens for Scientific Research.  No Commercial Value.  List Included"

e. Include a declaration printed on institution letterhead with the package.

f. Include the current Import Permit Number and/or printed import permit with the package.

A quarantine declaration template for printing on institutional letterhead when sending specimens to CANB is available in Microsoft Word format at:
CANB's current import permit is available in PDF format at:
A summary of the guidelines for sending herbarium materials to CANB is available in PDF format at:

If you have any questions about sending material to CANB please contact before mailing.

10. CITES and taxa of conservation significance

a. Overseas loans and exchanges of specimens of taxa listed in CITES appendices (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) are made only to approved CITES-registered institutions and within provisions of the Convention and relevant Australian legislation.

b. Overseas loans and exchanges of specimens of any Australian native species are made only to approved CITES-registered institutions or to institutions registered with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for facilitated exchange of scientific specimens.

c. Researchers should try to ascertain the conservation status of taxa under study. Many taxa occurring in Australia are listed and protected under various National, State or Territory legislation.

d. For “sensitive” taxa such as those likely to be subject to heavy amateur or commercial collection, conservation authorities may prefer that precise localities not be cited and consideration should be given to generalising a locality, e.g: "...N of Albany...", rather than "22.3 km N of Albany on Hassell Hwy", while retaining enough other data in the citation to allow unambiguous identification of the specimen.

11. Photography

a. Photography of specimens is allowed and encouraged.

b. If specimens are photographed, it is requested that a slip giving location and identification details of the negative, transparency or digital image be attached to each sheet concerned.

c. Where possible the herbarium label and other annotations showing the origin of the specimen should be clearly visible.

d. Copies of photographs are appreciated, particularly for Types or intended Types. Copies of photographs can be provided as prints, negatives or on CD in the case of digital images.

e. If specimen images are to be placed on the Internet, clear indication of the origin of the specimen should be shown; the URL of the image would be appreciated.

12. Annotations

a. All annotation slips should be on archival quality paper.

b. Determinavit or Confirmavit and other annotation slips should be attached to every sheet used for revisionary or Flora studies, with a signature, date and any relevant comments, using typescript or indelible ink (not ballpoint pen).

c. Determinavit or Confirmavit slips for cryptogams should be annotated and placed loose and completely inside every packet or box concerned.

d. For in-liquid labels, please use a heavy pencil.

e. Specimens that cannot be positively named, or those found to belong to taxa not under consideration, should be annotated to the extent possible.

f. Where material on a sheet is found to represent two or more collections or taxa, each element should be indicated with a separate Determinavit slip. Do not cut up sheets or try to separate the material.

g. Reliable clarification or enhancement of the data with a specimen is appreciated, especially locality, latitude, longitude, date, collector, collector’s number, or type status. However, no alterations, erasures, strikethrough, removal or obscuring of pre-existing data may be made. Annotations should be made and attached on new slips.

h. Under no circumstances should any non-archival contact-adhesive labels or tape be attached to herbarium sheets, cryptogam packets or boxes.

13. Intellectual Property

a. Exchanges or gifts of specimens are sent to the receiving institution on the understanding that there are certain rights to benefits arising from exchange or gift material provided for under the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements. The sending institution acknowledges similar residual rights to benefits to originating countries or institutions over material received as exchange or gift from other institutions.

b. A separate Materials Transfer Agreement is required where commercial development of derivatives of herbarium specimens is anticipated.

14. Unpublished and manuscript names

a. Manuscript names, provisional names or name-formulae on specimens may be provisional, or may represent work in progress or in press. It is strongly advised that the researcher who coined these names be contacted before such names are widely used.

15. Citing Specimens

a. Herbarium CANB includes previously separate herbaria such as CBG and FRI and this is reflected in the herbarium codes and registration numbers on some specimen items. The numerical portion of these registrations may coincide with those of other CANB specimens with a different herbarium abbreviation. CANB registration numbers take precedence and should be used if more than one registration number is present.

b. For example, cite specimens as "CANB 1234" if a CANB-prefixed number is on the sheet. If not, cite as, for example, “CBG 1234 at CANB”.

16. Acknowledgement

a. The lending institution must be acknowledged appropriately in any publications or other materials that present results derived from use of the loan specimens.

b. A copy of any publications resulting from study of loan or exchange material would be appreciated.


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