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Promise specimens won't be destroyed again

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

Six irreplaceable plant specimens from New Zealand were accidentally destroyed by Australian Customs, but Landcare Research says it's been assured it won't happen again.

The samples of lichen specimens, which were loaned to Australian researchers by New Zealand's Allan Herbarium, were intercepted by customs in Sydney and incinerated last year.

They were collected in the 1930s and dated back to the 19th century.

A loan from France's Museum of Natural History, had also been destroyed in Brisbane, Landcare Research said.

The plants had been tagged as special scientific objects and were cleared to go overseas.

The herbarium suspended all exports after the incident.

Landcare said Australian officials had over the weekend acknowledged the material should never have been destroyed and that their actions contravened their own procedures.

Assurance had also been given that there would be no repeats, but Landcare said it was waiting for confirmation in writing before resuming exports.

The Allan Herbarium agreed to loan specimens to researchers based at the Australian National Herbarium in Canberra, after a similar lichen species, thought to be native to New Zealand, was found in Australia.

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