Conditions of Loan & Exchange

Updated October, 2018
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
(Policy on destructive sampling)
9. Return of loan and packaging
10. Loans and exchange from institutions outside Australia
11. Photography
12. Annotations
13. Intellectual Property
14. Unpublished and manuscript names
15. Citing specimens
16. Acknowledgement

Loans from the Australian National Herbarium (CANB) are subject to the following conditions. Once a loan is approved, researcher(s) must complete a CANB Loan Agreement to confirm that they agree with these conditions.

1. Purpose of loans and Exchange

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.

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 appropriate archival storage arrangements exist.

b. Formal requests for loans of specimens, provision of images or for destructive sampling from CANB material (see point 8), should be made in writing or via email to the Curator of the Herbarium ( by the head of a recognised botanical institution on behalf of a 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 a signed agreement to these conditions has been received.

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 It does include the sale, transfer or transmission (other than for public-domain research) of unpublished information (e.g. lists or databases of specimen or taxon attributes) or images to third parties.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, CANB requires details of:

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

Specimens and data supplied for loan or exchange, and samples or images sent as gifts, are provided in good faith for research purposes. No warranties or assurances of reliability, suitability or fitness for a particular purpose are offered in regard to the specimens, data, samples or images. Assessment of suitability of such material and data for the intended use is the responsibility of receiving institutions or researchers. No responsibility or liability is accepted for errors in the identification, collection locality, or other data associated with these materials.

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 already at the borrowing institution will also 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 that they have seen already so that these can be excluded from the loan.

c. Normally, a small number of representative sheets of a taxon will be retained at CANB for reference purposes; if necessary these may be available for borrowing after the primary loan is returned.

d. Type specimens, material preserved in liquid, large separate items (e.g. fruits), woodblocks, dissection cards and 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, i.e. a ‘clean area’ free of insects and other pests; and under climatic conditions that inhibit insect activity and fungal growth (recommended conditions: 16–21°C and less than 50% relative humidity). 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 and dated slip must be attached to it 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 permission is granted for such treatment, a slip detailing the date, nature, dose and duration of treatment should be affixed to each specimen treated.

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

  • Temperature of 21°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 to be no longer than three months, unless a different term is negotiated
  • No material is to be removed

8. Removal of material, extracts

(see also Policy on Destructive Sampling from Herbarium Specimens)

a. Material must not be removed from type specimens without the written consent of the Curator. Removal of material from under tape on dissection cards is not permitted.

b. Other than type material, 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.

c. Unless destroyed in the process of analysis (e.g. for DNA extraction) material removed for study should be reattached to the specimen in an archival packet, or placed in the specimen packet, box or spirit container.

d. 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.

e. 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.

f. No material or extracts may be removed from loan specimens for permanent retention or without written permission from the Curator of the Herbarium via a Destructive Sampling Request (forms are available online at 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.

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

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. Sending loans and exchange to CANB

a. Specimens must be sent by traceable postal service. Specimens must not be sent via courier service (e.g. FedEx, TOLL, DHL) without the written consent of the Curator.

b. All specimens should be securely packaged and prominently labelled.

c. Return loan specimens must be enclosed in their original folders, packets or other containers and packaged to a comparable standard to that used when dispatched by CANB.

d. When sending or returning loan material or sending exchange material to CANB from outside Australia, a biosecurity label must be affixed to the outside of each separate package being sent. The labels should be printed on yellow paper (or a similar bright colour) to ensure they will be visible to mail inspection staff. An editable template for labels to be used on packages sent to CANB is available in Microsoft Word format at:

e. When sending or returning loan material or sending exchange material to CANB from outside Australia, include a biosecurity declaration printed on the letterhead of the sending institution with each separate package.
A biosecurity declaration template for printing on institutional letterhead when sending specimens to CANB is available in Microsoft Word format at:

f. From 1 June 2018 an Import Permit is only required for knowingly infected and/or pathogenic organisms. Herbarium specimens of non-infected and non-pathogenic vascular plants, algae, fungi, lichens or bryophytes do not require an Import Permit.

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. Loans and exchange from institutions outside Australia

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 Australian Department of the Environment for facilitated exchange of scientific specimens.

11. Photography

Photography of specimens is allowed for research reference purposes. Images must not be used in any publication without written consent from the Curator.

12. Annotations

a. For all material, annotation slips should be on archival quality paper, using typescript or indelible ink (not ballpoint pen) or a soft-leaded pencil for labels to be stored in liquid. Determinavit or Confirmavit and other annotation slips should include a signature, date, institution and any relevant comments.

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

c. For vascular plants slips should be attached to every sheet used for revisionary or Flora studies.

d. For cryptogams slips should be placed loose but securely inside every packet or box concerned.

e. For type specimens, annotations must include the type status, basionym and protologue details if not already indicated.

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

g. Where material in a single preparation (e.g. herbarium sheet or cryptogam packet) is found to represent two or more collections or taxa, each element should be indicated in a clear and unambiguous way without damaging the material. Do not cut up sheets or try to separate the material. Such material will be dealt with appropriately when returned to CANB.

h. 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 on separate slips and attached or enclosed as outlined in points 12a–d above.

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, or a third party institution is involved in the research project.

14. Unpublished and manuscript names

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

Herbarium CANB incorporates the collections of previously separate herbaria such as CBG and FRI and this is reflected in the herbarium codes on some specimen items. As a result of the merging of these collections, the accession numbers used are not always unique and care must be taken to cite the correct herbarium code. CANB accession numbers take precedence and should be used if more than one accession number is present.

For example, cite specimens as "CANB 1234" if a CANB-prefixed number is on the sheet. If not, cite as “CBG 1234 at CANB”. Citing the name of the collector/s and their collection number in addition to the CANB/CBG/FRI herbarium code and accession numbers can provide a useful means to cross-check which specimen is being referenced.

16. Acknowledgement

The lending institution must be acknowledged appropriately in any publications or other materials that present results derived from use of the loan specimens, images or samples from the specimens sent as gifts. A copy of any publications resulting from the study of loan, exchange or gift material would be appreciated.

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