Tabloid on-line BBC 'article'; Nine lies which damaged Chris' name

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO GO THROUGH THE ARTICLE, IN ITS ENTIRETY, WITH MY COMMENST ABOUT THE FALSE 'ACCUSATIONS', INCLUDING NO LESS THAN 9 LIES MADE AGAINST ME. I was repeatedly told that instead of an article, a piece was going to be broadcast on the Radio 4 'Today' Programme.  Reasonably enough, I asked to be told when this was to be, so I could listen and know what I had actually been accused of!  I was repeatedly lied to about this as well, as the BBC knew, all along, that no such 'broadcast' was ever going to happen..

Instead, an on-line article appeared, which will be there for eternity.  How much does the BBC pay for its articles to appear so prominently in response to queries in search engines?  The other day, I was searching for information on funding for a fraudulent plant conservation charity and guess what, the first result was the offending BBC world-service article.  Why?  Is the BBC making Chris a scapegoat for serious wrong-doing of others? Chris has become accustomed to BBC personnel, both junior and senior, twisting words and downright lying.  He was disappointed, even shocked by this, as used to trust the BBC. Not any more.... After making a formal complaint, in writing to the Head of BBC World Service, in advance of the Radio broadcast, which was never going to happen, I was once again, misled and lied to.  No purpose in pursuing the matter further, as no doubt the backs of all concerned would be covered and being a nobody, the BBC knows I do not have the resources to take legal action.  Pretending to be a reporter for the radio programme, rather than merely working for BBC World Service,  was sufficient to trick someone into being interviewed on a different topic, with the intention to obtain information to defame me. The internet, given the power of the likes of the BBC is a cruel place, as their version of events stays for ever.  However, nobodies like me, can fight back and stick up for themselves.  Fair-minded, intelligent people, who read through the following responses and check other factually accurate details provided on this web-site, can draw their own conclusions as to who to trust.  After all, Chris Chadwell is the expert, not an unscrupulous reporter (the BBC was perfectly aware of what they would get) and why would he draw attention to the article if he really was the villain?  That would be really dumb. Why has it taken him two years to respond?  Well, I have been seriously ill, in a great deal of pain, for much of every day, which is debilitating, mentally and physically; only now am I well enough to attempt to defend myself and expose the scandalous conduct of some very big names including a very senior one from the BBC. , along with the smoke-screen with crocodile tears over conservation, which officials from Himalayan countries are using to attempt to disguise their own failings.  It is Chris who cares deeply about the flowers, environment and peoples of the Himalaya - certainly not the BBC nor the governments of India or Nepal.  Read the evidence yourself.  The BBC has abused our trust and should be held to account but they know Chris is a 'nobody', who is not powerful enough to bring them to book - they are mistaken on this occasion because the truth is going to out, even if it kills him in the process of pursuing this matter, which his wife predicts.  That would delight Mr Khadka and the BBC, as they dislike whistle-blowers....

So let us go through the article in question, line by line and see where the truth lies?  You decide.  You may assume that legal niceties would have been observed. After all this is the BBC.  You may be shocked to discover that a journalist working for the BBC can act as a law unto themselves.  They do not have to answer a single question but if you fail to answer questions to their liking, they can "door-step" you and pretend you have agreed to be interviewed.  They can fire lies at you, in expectation that under such pressure, you may say something which that can 'twist' to confirm your guilt.  You only have to watch BBC journalists in action on TV interviewing someone, then pay attention to what is claimed subsequently.  You will immediately be saying, the person being interviewed, did not mean what the journalist then implies.  Of course, you must be guilt because a BBC journalist has decided to door-step you.  And we all can trust the BBC!

So, let us address the article from 2nd March 2016, Science and Environment by Navin Singh Khadka, Environmental Reporter, BBC World Service. 'Illegally collected Himalayan seeds sold in UK' - one might assume that Mr Khadka is a trained scientist but I know of no scientific qualification he holds or valid scientific training he has received.  I am sure he would have told us, he had.  He certainly does not know the first thing about seed-collecting or botany!


There is a large close-up picture of a gentian, with the caption that Gentiana is a favourite among collectors - of course none of the 'scientists' and 'experts' involved have been able to identify which one...

Next we have Seeds of exotic plants illegally collected in the Himalayas (please not that the 'multilingual' Mr Khadka, like most of the BBC [although they did get it right in the series 'Himalaya' with Michael Palin] does not know it is 'Himalaya' not 'Himalayas'.  Mr Attenborough, regularly narrates it incorrectly as 'Himalayas' - just in case you think I do not know what I am talking about, the word is from Sanskrit, obviously a language beyond Mr Khadka, transliterated and translated into "The Abobe of or home of, snow", which is plural enough for me.  Because people are accustomed to saying alps and Andes, does not make the Himalaya into the Himalayas - tabloid level reporting) are being sold in the UK, the BBC has found.  But did it? LIE NUMBER ONE THE HEAD-LINE. I disproved all the allegations about illegal collecting Mr Khadka made against me but he used is standard tactic i.e. 'guilty by association' - because the others named had not the necessary permission, does not prove I was guilty of this!

Then, National Himalayan authorities say no permission was obtained to gather and export the plant material.  LIE NUMBER TWO. Which 'National authorities is he talking about anyhow?  Which introductions from the Himalaya is he referring to? As always with Khadkha articles, it is exceedingly challenging to keep track of what he is referring to as his style is "all over the place".  Furthermore the use of the words 'exotic' and 'plant material', rather than merely seeds, implies far greater sins, akin to the plant equivalent of Rhino horn or Elephant tusks - which it is not.  Merely gathering seed, leaves the plants intact, in situ and does not damage the environment.  One must ask, if, on the other hand, you accept what the article says, then WHY ON EARTH do the so concerned officials in Nepal repeatedly grant permission to expeditions mounted by Edinburgh Botanical Garden to gather seed?  And why, do staff at Edinburgh Botanical Garden participate in what are portrayed by "BBC News" as such a reprehensible activity, continue to sin, time and time again.  This is beyond my comprehension.  What a pity Indian botanists know so little about seed-collection; instead they wantonly dig up plants they themselves describe as 'Critically Endangered' (i.e. about to become extinct) only said specimens to rapidly expire being unable to cope with the shock of transplanting thousands of metres down to a hot, dry botanical garden, at the worst possible time of year.  Why is the BBC not investigating such blatant criminality?

The activity harms the environment and deprives local people of the benefits from the trade of plants, they add. IF YOU WISH TO KNOW WHAT DOES HARM THE ENVIRONMENT AND DAMAGES COLONIES OF WILD HIMALAYAN PLANTS See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/what-are-the-real-risks-to-himalayan-flora-1  I wonder why the BBC is not interested in investigating the REAL risks to Himalayan flora, as outlined by a genuine expert?  LIES NUMBERS THREE & FOUR - seed collecting neither damages the environment nor deprives local people of the benefits from the 'trade' of plants. Mr Khadka does not explain.  How would these un-named 'National Himalayan authorities' actually know.  They sit in their offices.  They do not know!  LIES...

Well, I must challenge these FALSEHOODS.  I can categorically state that seed-collecting (unless it is undertaken on a massive, grossly irresponsible manner and scale) does not damage the environment.  I know more about the flora of the Himalaya (as a whole) and the NW Himalaya, in particular, than anyone past or present, understand what is involved in the process of gathering seed (the individual officers and collective National Himalayan authorities do not have a clue about seed collection nor do Indian or Nepalese botanists).  As for 'depriving local people of benefits from the trade of plants'.  What rubbish.  Mr Khadkha, who also knows nothing about seed collecting or possible benefits from the trade of plants, has simply regurgitated what has been said by them. They are no experts.  They could not care less, beyond wishing to 'sound' like they are doing their job. As for Dr Watson from Edinburgh, IF seed-collecting damages the environment (which I question), why did he participate in at least one expedition to the Himalaya, which collected seed?  And there have been several from Edinburgh Botanical Garden!  I understand, IF Edinburgh does it, then it does not damage the environment but if others do, it does!

Some of the suppliers (I am confused who he means) told the BBC that locals had actually helped them collect the flowers (what does he mean by this - does he means seeds or flowers, they are different you know, perhaps Mr Khadkha does not understand this); others said they did not know their activities were illegal.  If you look at Mr Khadkha's previous article posted for the BBC (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/previous-articles-by-mr-khadka) this muddle of information (often referring to more than one subject is typical and confusing, but designed to built up the 'blame' against something, which unless the reader takes great care (and actually has first-hand knowledge, which few reading his articles do but afford a level of trust because he works for the BBC - this is something he exploits and abuses).

Next we have another typical Khadka ploy, "experts say"  ... without divulging which experts.  Convenient tactic.  Perhaps the same 'experts' which lied about seed collection damaging the environment, when it does not or depriving locals of this 'imagined' income, which it does not?  Experts say horticultural societies and clubs across the UK have long raised questions about such practice.  LIE NUMBER FIVE.  which 'experts? I belong to such clubs and know what goes on. Really?  This is news to me?  Which 'experts' and 'experts' about what?  Which horticultural societies and clubs?  Why not name them?  Once again, I am the real expert about Himalayan seed, with un-rivalled knowledge, having founded Chadwell Seeds in 1984 and been involved in botanical expeditions to the Himalayan since 1980.

It is my intention to expand my response here but shall shortly be approaching one such society and what else I have to say is dependent upon their reaction.......

"When people are flouting the regulations, then that impacts us - because the host countries get more cautious about things, and we are helping them develop the protocols for ethical sharing of plant materials and the benefits," said Mark Watson of the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh. Rubbish. IS THIS A LIE OR dr WATSON DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS REALLY OPERATE IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT?  MY OVER EXPERIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF THESE MATTERS IS GREATER THAN HIS. My, my, talk about double-standards.  Most people will automatically accept what has been quoted by named 'officials', as further evidence to differentiate the "good guys" i.e. the authorities in India, Nepal and UK and the "bad guys".  Well, I know better, which may well embarrass those institutions and authorities, whose conduct, in reality, leaves a lot to be desired. I shall come on to 'ethics' at the end of this piece.

I have been high-profile in the world of specialist horticultural societies interested in plants which are likely to prove hardy in the UK, since the 1980s.  I am always available to dispense free advice, which can often be time-consuming, despite having operated off a shoe-string budget, devoting my adult life, since 1980, to the study, cultivation and conservation of Himalayan flora.  I am occasionally approached (though not for the past few years) about expeditions and gathering seed in the Himalaya. Most making the inquiries, whether from the UK or abroad, were ignorant of the issues, the majority viewing the peoples of India and Nepal with contempt, thinking themselves superior (I, on the other hand, am a friend of the peoples of the Himalaya, its environment and flora  - though I do not have a high opinion of the governments of this part of the world, nor some of the institutions and specialist horticultural societies in the UK). They felt that as India and Nepal are chaotic places, which they are, then why should they be required to comply with any rules and regulations?  I would inform them otherwise, explaining the need to collaborate with institutions in these countries.  I do recollect two inquiries from Scotland, with the inquirers having already approached staff at Edinburgh Botanics!  So much for Edinburgh offering advice about rules and being 'holier than thou'....

Unfortunately, for Edinburgh Botanics, I have had dealings with various members of staff since the early 1980s.  In all that time, not one of them raised any 'concerns' about permission to collect either seed or botanical specimens.  Strange that.  In fact during one of my visits, I met and interviewed a member of staff, who had applied to join my expedition to the Himalaya that year; I also met the Regius Keeper (the top man) who initially suggested that would it not be cheaper for them to take out a share in the seed collections (no issues of permission raised), than finance participation by a member of staff (no doubt, had he joined my team, full permission would have been secured through Edinburgh)!

My first expedition to the Himalaya had been as team-leader of the botanical project on the University of Ladakh Expedition 1980, when we collected primarily botanical specimens in three sets for the herbaria of the universities of Kashmir, Southampton and Royal Botanic Garden, Kew; in addition, a member of Kew staff asked us to gather seed of any Clematis seen. This expedition followed on from the 1976 Southampton University Ladakh Expedition, when a set of specimens was collected for the herbarium, of, yes you have guessed it, Edinburgh Botanic Garden.  A number of Edinburgh staff advised me on botanical projects, yet not one mentioned permissions  Later, they accepted, no questions asked, pressed specimens collected during a botanical expedition to Kashmir.  One year, after visiting the botany department, University of Kashmir; I was asked to take back to the UK, pressed specimens collected by staff members, for identification at Edinburgh, which I complied with.  Edinburgh raised no questions about receiving this material (this time as to whether permission had been secured from the Government of India for export).  Subsequently, I posted pressed specimens belonging to Gentian family, which had a plant taxonomist who was an authority, at Edinburgh, collected for H.H. The Dalai Lama's Tibetan Medical Institute (no doubt without permission) at Dharamsala, India, after a visit there.  I also supplied Edinburgh with seeds; no concerns were raised.

There is also the not insignificant matter that it was a person who had trained at Edinburgh Botanical Garden, who introduced me to "seed shares" to help towards meeting the costs of mounting expeditions.  I am and always will be, primarily a field-botanist but funding, once one leaves an Institution, for botanical research becomes virtually impossible.  Why should this be the case?  Are institutions jealously guarding such funding for themselves, unwilling to share any with worthy causes like Chris Chadwell..

Then, perhaps most revealing of all, is how I was able to secure permission to export seed (and botanical specimens) collected in Nepal during my first expedition there in 1990.  This was thanks to my colleague, who was well-connected with Edinburgh Botanical Garden.  On several occasions subsequently, he and others, who presumably secured similar official permission to export, thanks to those on-going Edinburgh connections.?  Looks like all one needs is to know the right person at Edinburgh Botanical Garden.....  I did not supply Mr Khadka with contact details of this person, as he was suffering from dementia at the time - after all, Mr Khadkha wished to twist what might have been said.  I behaved honourably.


Next comes a picture of an un-named plant, which appears to be in cultivation - whether this is a Himalayan species, I cannot tell, with the caption that 'Permits are required both the collect and to export plant seeds'.  Looks like all one needs to do is to know the right person at Edinburgh Botanical Garden.  Perhaps those who have been "named and shamed" did not.  Also, perhaps they did not know the game called 'bribery'.  I have never paid nor inquired about paying a bribe.  I did ask Mr Khadkha if he ever had but like so many other questions, they remained unanswered.  I suspect he has.  One person who has read this article, was angered by how I had been treated.  They were born and brought up in the Indian sub-continent, and said that all one needs to know is who to bribe and how much and permission for almost anything can be forthcoming....

Next, The Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group (RCMG), a UK gardening organisation associated with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), has admitted that one of its collectors di not have permission.  The group's chairman, David Millais, wrote to the authorities in India's Sikkim state, saying: "We have been informed directly by Timothy Atkinson (one of the seed collectors for the group) that he did in fact not have permission to collect seed in Sikkim in 2012 & 2013, which is deeply regrettable. "he does, however, confirm.. that because he acted in innocence, unaware he was in violation of local regulations and for which he appears genuinely remorseful."  Mr Mallais wrote to the Sikkim authorities after our investigation prompted the latter to launch an inquiry.  Mr Atkinson's name appeared in the RCMG listings for nearly 250 collections of different varieties of plant seeds in Sikkim and West Bengal States of India.  Some collections even took place in wildlife reserves and sanctuaries. "Collection of plant specimens is strictly prohibited from wildlife protected areas under the Wildlife protection Act of 1972, and even from other reserved forest areas, " said Thomas Chandy, principal secretary with Sikkim's department of forests, in a written response.  Mr Atkinson declined our request to interview him. And who could blame him, as it was obvious that Mr Khadka would have attempted to trick him into saying more things that would present him in an unfavourable light.

I cannot speak for those involved above (or below), not having heard of, nor from, the person specifically named.  Had he bothered to contact me, I would have informed him, in no uncertain terms, that he stood absolutely no chance to gain permission to collect in Sikkim or West Bengal. I am not responsible for the conduct of others, especially if they chose not to seek my advice.  What I can say is that there was a failing on behalf of The Royal Horticultural Society, which unlike most members of specialist horticultural societies who are amateurs, have paid, full-time staff.  They were undoubtedly caught out by the 'Nagoya Protocol'.  But why had this group 'fallen out' with Edinburgh Botanical Garden, as it appears to have been straightforward, if you knew the right people there, to obtain permission to collect and export seed from Nepal..... 

One word in defence of those attempting to "do the right thing" in India, is that if, as is often the case, officials fail to reply to their e-mails (or in the past, letters), it is rather difficult to know what is going on.  Prior to my last visit to India, in 2012, I wrote to the Head of the Botany Department at the University of Kashmir, after e-mailing him but got no response.  Whilst it is "the norm" to just turn up in India, in the UK this is considered rather bad manners.  I was able to secure a meeting, booked in advance, thanks to P.Kohli & Co. contacts with a former Professor, the previous Head of Department.  Upon arrival (I was to be in Kashmir for a month) I offered to give a digital presentation about Kashmir plants (using images scanned in from slides taken in the 1980s) and present a Kohli Memorial Gold Medal (on behalf of the Himalayan Plant Association) to the department, in recognition of their significant contribution to the study of Himalayan flora (see: scroll down top 2012 https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/kohli-memorial-gold-medals); I was anticipating a booking a week or two later but the suggestion was to give the award there and then, after the slide-show, with just 15 minutes preparation time - fortunately I had my lap-top, containing some past lectures with me.....


Next is an image of the distant Himalaya with the caption, Teams of collectors mount expeditions to gather plant resources in the Himalaya. What does he mean by this?  Sensationalist twaddle - deliberately misleading.  What depths the BBC has sunk to.

This, at least is correct, although the number of 'teams' is minimal and the scale of the Himalaya enormous.  But the fundamental point is, why if, as was proclaimed (incorrectly) that seed collecting damages the environment of the Himalaya, do 'National Himalayan Authorities' permit Edinburgh Botanical Garden teams to collect seed in e.g. Nepal?  Either it is damaging or it is not and if it is why, does Edinburgh send such teams, albeit legally to collect?  Does not add up to me. And Edinburgh Botanical Garden (and Kew) most definitely have been collecting seed in Nepal for decades!!!  And passing some of the spoils on to private nurseries.  Let me give some examples from when I first began my travels to the Himalaya:

1981 Expedition to Makalu and Barun Khola, Nepal - this was chiefly to collect seed (and live plants) including Rhododendrons (which makes a mockery of the condemnation of collections in Sikkim for the RCMG mentioned above).

1983 Expedition to Marsyandi Valley, Nepal - primarily horticultural including seed collections.

1989 Kew-Edinburgh Expedition to Kanchenchunga, Nepal - a major, horticulturally orientated expedition; a great amount of seed was collected and distributed to many botanical gardens, nurseries and private growers around the world.

1991 Edinburgh Expedition to Makalu and Milke Danda, Nepal - primarily horticultural with funding from a number of Charitable Trusts, specialist societies, botanical gardens and a number of nurseries.

1992 Edinburgh Expedition to Sikkim - which included one horticulturist and a certain Mark Watson (so it is OK for him to go to Sikkim but not others, on behalf of a specialist horticultural society - which if only it had the right connections at Edinburgh - being Scottish certainly helps, would have secured official permission but was not doing anything fundamentally different; hypocritical, double-standards alert.... And let me return to the initial thrust of this article, that 'seed collecting damages' the environment of the Himalaya (which I dispute) why does Edinburgh Botanical Garden repeatedly mount expeditions to the Himalaya to collect seed, at least one of which, has involved Mark Watson.  Clearly, because he works at Edinburgh, he is a 'God' (just as Mr Khadka believes he is a 'God' because he works for the BBC).  Us 'mortals' are not 'permitted' to undertake seed-collecting or receive seed from locals unless we have permission from Edinburgh Botanical Garden.

1975, 1979, 1982, 1984  Bhutan - primarily botanical expeditions

Since 1967, staff from Edinburgh Botanical Garden have collected both botanically and horticulturally in Himachal Pradesh, on a number of occasions - as these were not formal expeditions, one must assume that official permission had not been obtained.

Let us return to the article, The 2015 offer list of the RCMG had nearly 850 collections of plant seeds, with more than half of them sourced from the Himalayas (oops) including in India, China and Myanamar.

Oh Dear! Mr Khadkha clearly does not know much about the Himalaya, despite his Nepalese origins (at least I think he was born there, as it is remarkably difficult to find out much about his background - I wonder why he is so shy), China and Myanmar are not part of the Himalaya.  The mountains of SW China and what mountains there are in Myanmar, are not within the Himalaya!  Never mind, it helps make it sound like a large amount of collecting is going on, when it is in fact an exaggeration.
Why does the BBC employ someone who knows so little about the topics they write about.  Not even knowing how to spell the Himalaya or its geographic limits is a pretty poor effort!

The group later wrote to its members to inform them that all wild-collected seeds were being removed from the web-site.

Next, Mr Khadka picks on, Ray Brown is the proprietor of another supplier, Plant World Seeds which put some of Himalayan seeds on its website.  Mr Brown refused to comment when asked if he had obtained permits for the seeds' collection.  He was in a team that went to Nepal and collected nearly 60 plant seed varieties in just one trip in 2014.  In a write-up where he listed all the seeds collected, Mr Brown wrote, "Every one of you will receive a few seeds of this treasure, and also the Meconopsis and Rheum noted above."


There is then a 'screen grab from October: Rheum seeds with an ID number on sale online'.

The ID numbers Mr Brown's team gave to the seeds collected in Nepal matched those offered on his Plant World Seeds website. These numbers have now been removed from the site. Authorities in Nepal say Mr Brown's team had no permission to make a collection. "We checked with our district forest offices where these plants are found in the high-mountain areas. None of the district forest offices reported that those named people were there with any kind of permission, " Nepal's forest department chief, Resham Dangi, told BBC News. "It's not in the records". 

Finally, it is Chris Chadwell who is honoured next, under 'Totally illegal'  (presumably the previous offenders were only guilty of collecting illegal, whilst he does something much worse.  Though, I still am at a loss as to what 'Totally illegal' means?

Some suppliers of seed say they get them from local collectors and therefore they need no permission from host countries.  One such supplier is Himalayan plant expert Chris Chadwell who has provided seeds to private and public gardens in the UK. Most of what he says is correct - another one of his 'tried & trusted' tactics, to deliberately mix correct facts, especially those sounding official with incorrect ones.  Most readers assume everything is true.  I did not tell him that no permission is required - he twisted what I said.  I told him that I had suppliers of seed but they had permission to export it to me such as P.Kohli & Co., established in 1928, which holds an export license. In addition to seeds the have provided me, with the necessary phytosanitary certificate (and those all 'legal'), sent me bulbs of Himalayan plants from their nursery in Kashmir (not dug up from the wild); it was Prem Nath Kohli who was raising concerns about plant conservation, long before it was fashionable to do so and for ill-informed correspondents to write about the subject for the BBC!  See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/p-n-kohli-s-sugestions-to-the-indian-government and other items about Kohli on this web-site.


We come to a picture (see above) captioned as 'Himalayan plants growing at Sheffield Botanical Gardens' with a label of the kind one associates with
botanic gardens.  I have for decades been banging on about providing permanent labels with a collection reference.  Not in my wildest dreams had imagined
that after being ignored (who actually bothers looking at labels or understands what is on the label - as is the case for Mr Khadka) that a picture would be taken
showing a label with a plant I had helped supply.  Sheffield Botanical Garden received plants, as a donation, from someone who had grown on the seed, from
a number of sources, such as the Seed Exchange of the Himalayan Plant Association, which uses reference numbers to distinguish between.  The standard approach is to only provide a Latin plant name, the plant family it belongs to, general geographic region, year of accession to the garden concerned (with the a garden reference number) and sometimes the sources reference number.  From observing labels at major botanic gardens such as Kew, I can vouch that transcription errors abound.  In addition, plants day in cultivation, such that labels often outlive them. The image above is a case in point.  The plant (not plants) species in flower above belongs to a completely different plant family and genus to Aqulegia fragrans (not that Mr Khadka understands anything about such matters) - which was a provisional identification, which may well prove to be a different species of Aquilegia.  To make the experience of greater interest, some of the labels had 'Common names' added (pity the plant in flower is something else but the photographer was too ignorant botanically to know any better).

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens, for example, has a bed where plants from the Himalayas (oops, spelt incorrectly again) are being grown, and officials (how he loves 'officials' at the garden said many seeds were supplied by Mr Chadwell. LIE NUMBER SIX. Incorrect again, I have never supplied Sheffield Botanical Gardens with any seeds, originating in the Himalaya or anywhere else.  It is true that someone who had been supplied with seed by me (from a number of sources, such as P.Kohli & Co., and The Seed Exchange of the Himalayan Plant Exchange - some of these came from beyond the Himalaya, as the association was for a period the 'Sino-Himalayan Plant Association', with donations from other regions such as China) grew on the seeds into plants, donated them to the garden, where they were planted out in a special bed, primarily for educational purposes.  Instead, this ignorant journalist, has attempted to portray Chris Chadwell (and Sheffield) in an unfavourable light. Perhaps Mr Khadka does not know the difference between plants and seeds? There is much Mr Khadka does not understand.

"But, yes, the rules and regulations are increasing and are stricter... and they are currently checking with the authorities whether or not it's going to be permissible to receive any seed in 2016."  I do acknowledge these words, they make sense and are correct but are taken out of sequence.  Unlike to the BBC, where they seem to be willing to answer (and of course, wish to portray themselves in a favourable light) officials in India and Nepal have a habit of not bothering to reply to inquiries (the same applies to most botanists) - thus it can be difficult to know exactly what the rules are.  I have always made a big effort to 'play by the rules', which often are not "black & white", being open to interpretation.  I asked a granddaughter of P.N.Kohli to contact the relevant department of the Indian Government.  She is a successful, assertive business woman, accustomed to dealing with officials from the Indian government.  She ran a business arranging for Indian graduates to study in Australia; following attacks on Indians in Australia, there were concerned expressed by the parents/families funding the study.  She had meetings with senior officials.  To attempt to clarify the situation, she met officials in New Delhi but we are still none-the-wiser about the current situation with P.Kohli & Co.... Mr Khadkha quotes officials, making it sound clear-cut.  It is not and after all the Nagoya Protocol actively encourages exploitation of genetic resources, it is all about money!  Why do UK scientists now say it is virtually impossible to get permission to undertake botanical studies in India.  India desperately  needs collaboration.

"P.Kohli & Company (an Indian firm, he says - what a dumb remark, of course they are an Indian firm; all part of Khadka tactics to imply wrong-doing) have a licence, and they have been permitted to export seed and I am associated with them, and I liaise with them do my collecting trips with them, " he told BBC News.  I cannot recollect the exact words I used when I was 'door-stepped' just prior to delivering an evening lecture but don't think I would have used those exactly or more importantly, what he is implying. In a court-case the defence is permitted to have copies of the evidence against their client - not so with the BBC...

During this 'interview', Mr Khadkha bombarded me with incorrect claims (LIES), going on about Bangladesh and Myanmar (which are irrelevant to me, as I have never been to the latter and know nobody there, whilst the climatic conditions in the former mean that no Bangladhesi plant would be hardy in UK gardens, and thus of no interest to me).  He claimed that various officials said that permission to collect seed was never given - which is patently untrue.  Quite apart from the activities of Edinburgh Botanical Gardens (plus those who know the right people there) and Kew, a former BBC presenter collected seed in Nepal on an official expedition from the University of North Wales. 

Mr Chadwell refused to give us contact details for the Indian company (only partially true) and other individuals he says have legally supplied seeds to him in the past (LIE NUMBER SEVEN).  Let me explain about P.Kohli & Co., which had been run by Prem Nath Kohli (there was plenty of information about him on my then web-site) for more than half-a-century.  Kohli was scrupulously honest, which it has to be said, is not the norm in India, and enjoyed an outstanding reputation.  One of his daughters took over as Proprietor, being based in Kashmir until a terrible event took place (her husband was killed in awful circumstances but it would not be appropriate to go into detail); this, now elderly lady, is almost blind.  Of course, and honourably so, I declined to provide her private phone number  - Mr Khadka was not interested in an intelligent conversation but to twist and further damage Mr Kohli's reputation.  Perhaps, he though P.Kohli & Co., did not exist or was that Mr Kohli had been a 'dodgy' character, like himself?  I was unwilling to cause such a fine lady further distress.  So yes, Mr Khadka is correct that I refused and would do so again.

As to 'refusing' to supply contact details for other sources of supply.  This is a downright lie.  I told him e.g. of Madam Tamang of Darjeeling, India, who had sent seed, like P.Kohli & Co.  I did not have a current e-mail address or phone number, nor do so now.  Is Mr Khadka really suggesting the BBC, with its resources, is incapable of checking such facts? Perhaps Mr Khadka was just lazy and incapable of finding out the most basic information unless a private phone number is provided? I have just undertaken a quick google search and found out that he had in fact been killed - he was a senior figure, a politician (hence my certainty he would have had the necessary permissions to export seed to me)! Mind you, in case you consider that all these 'revelations' Mr Khadka writes about are down to hard-work and amazing detective skills, let me enlighten you - the information appeared on Chris Chadwell's web-site (not that Khadka actually bothered reading (or understood) much of the content).... As for the legality of seed supplied to Chris from Madan - being a senior figure  - how they were obtained and if any bribes were paid, Chris is not in a position to confirm and Madan has unfortunately passed away, so cannot respond to inquiries from the BBC.

There have been other suppliers of Himalayan seed to Chris, some of which, due to a serious long-term illness, Chris had not recollected the names of (this is the truth). So let me mention another Indian, Udai Pradhan of Kalimpong, renowned orchid specialist and writer, like Madan Tamang, another well-known figure, whose details can readily be found; his records and memory should be able to confirm he exported some seeds to me. Another supplier, who has also now passed away, was Narsim of Narayanwamy Ashram, Kailash Himalaya, Kumaon.

Another person, this time from the UK, Chris did not mention at the time of the article, because he was not in a position to verify the permissions (due to the man concerned suffering from dementia) - this colleague was from Chris Chadwell's first expedition to Nepal, when they did secure the necessary permission from the Director-General, His Majesty's Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forests & Soil Conservation, Department of Forestry & Plant Research, Thapathali, Kathmandu.  For subsequent expeditions Chris' colleagues had right connections with Edinburgh Botanical Garden, so was capable of securing the permissions but as Chris checks his facts before he makes claims, chose not to mention this person or provide a contact phone number.  It would have been dishonourable to trouble someone with dementia to confirm details or have a bullying journalist attempt to twist what he would have said, which is Mr Khadkha's style!  Once again, as with P.Kohli & Co., Chris had behaved honourably, unlike Mr Kahdka....

Indian authorities have told the BBC that even if seed are collected by locals, foreigners are not allowed to receive them without authorisation.  Well, IF e.g. the seeds came from Nepal, what 'Indian' authorities have to say, is irrelevant and vice-versa! The stricter rules and regulations, which have followed the Nagoya Protocol have only come into force recently.  One cannot pronounce 'illegality' retrospectively. 

"The non-Indian person or entity is required to obtain the prior approval of National Biodiversity Authority (of India) for access to biological resources in India or knowledge associated thereto for research or commercial utilisation or biosurvey and bio-utilization, " said KP Raghuram, an official with the NBA.   Well, once again, IF e.g. the seeds came from Nepal, what 'Indian' authorities have to say, is irrelevant and vice-versa. If you read Khadkha's previous articles, you will see he mixes up information which is often irrelevant, such as in this case, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Mr Dang, with Nepal's forest department, said something similar: "If they want to get seeds collected and exported to them by locals, they need to get a permit from the department of forest, and based on our approval the phytosanitary office screens such materials and give the certification. "Otherwise it's totally illegal".  Never heard of the department of 'forest'....

Perhaps, such arrangements in Nepal would be, "something similar" to arrangements as they were in Kashmir, when P.Kohli & Co., exported, legally, bulbs from their nursery in Srinagar?  Bribery was rife, which P.N.Kohli, refused, causing him great difficulties because he was scrupulously honest.  The 'authority' in Kashmir was meant to treat the bulbs with powder.  Instead, P.Kohli & Co., had to pay for the chemicals themselves and treat the bulbs.  The local 'authority' did not do any inspecting but had to be paid and expected a bribe; when the bribe was not paid, they would delay the consignment, often resulting in the bulbs failing to be planted at the proper time and failure at the other end, damaging Kohli's reputation, because the purchaser would consider it was Kohli who was lazy & idle!  On one occasion, a consignment for Australia was lost altogether due to deliberate delays because Mr Kohli refused to pay the bribe.  Of course, I must be making all this up.  Officials do not behave like this?  Make your own minds up.  Mr Kohli lived by himself, in a simple room attached to his business premises, after his wife died. A servant helped him, taking letters to the local post office.  Mr Kohli warned him not to pay any bribes but he did, to the post office staff (the amount was small and he wanted to keep his job).... Is this a lie to?  No, the truth.


The purpose of the 'expedition' above was solely to help raise funds for established charities in Nepal, following the 2015 Earthquake and support individual Nepalis whose homes were destroyed; for the record, due to ill-health, Chris Chadwell was not able to visit Nepal that year (nor had he in 2014) but a 'plant hunting expedition' attracts more attention (with shareholders imagining Chris suffering under arduous conditions and thus raises more funds - which was the priority, to help people in Nepal.  The BBC, on the other-hand merely wishes to score 'political points' and cry 'crocodile' tears about the flora, environment and peoples of the Himalaya, about which its correspondent knows nothing!  Or perhaps in his language it should be 'totally nothing'.

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens officials [well, official in this case] said things were beyond their control. "We are not the ones that are going out and doing the collection so we have to, to a certain extent, trust they are getting those permits, " the garden's acting head, Ian Turner, told BBC News.  "But at any effect there is always as uncertainty because we don't collect the seeds ourselves: we don't acquire the permits and we have to take some of that on trust." Mr Brown was tricked (he had no duty to agree to be interviewed) by Mr Khadka who told him he was interested in the Himalayan Bed & worked for Radio 4 Today Programme.  LIE NUMBER EIGHT. Mr Turner was expecting a positive, constructive broadcast and has subsequently told me that he did not say some of the things Mr Khadka claimed in a letter to me (hence this cannot count as a lie within this article).

The Nagoya Protocol, an international treaty that came into being [I think he means "its implementation date of October 12th, 2014/came into force, which was four years after it was agreed - as usual, Mr Khadkha did not bother to check his facts but as he works for the BBC, he does not need to", prohibits the collection of plant materials without an agreement with host countries on the sharing of benefits arising from such resources.  I, unlike Mr Khadka, have actually read this protocol and digested its meaning along with the 'Convention on Biological Diversity' (CBD) upon which it is based.  See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/nagoya-protocol  Well, none of the plants growing at Sheffield Botanical Garden when Mr Khadka visited in 2015) were raised from seed supplied after October 2014.  A plant cannot be raised from seed to flowering in just a few months!  Perhaps Mr Khadka does not know this?

Recipient responsibility (this does not, it seems, apply to Edinburgh Botanical Garden, which can do whatever they wish - rather like BBC journalists)

Some authorities (why are these not named, I wonder, Mr Khadka being deliberately vague, yet again) have also been criticised for not working in the spirit of that treaty (which treaty does Mr Khadka mean, deliberately vague as usual but let us guess at the Nagoya Protocol) and discouraging foreign seed-collectors who are willing to operate legally. I REALLY do not understand what on earth Mr Khadka means!  It makes no sense - though that could be said for much of the article.  Perhaps the BBC has no editors of their articles or the editors do not understand much of the content!  It seems a deliberate tactic of Mr Khadka to write 'nonsense' - after all, who actually bothers reading (and attempting to understand) the content, as its the sensationalist headlines which are eye-catching.

But experts (here we go again, which experts I wonder - the more of Mr Khadka's informal prose I read, it seems he has exactly the same template for every article, he just inserts different words, even when they make no sense) say the onus is on the recipient countries as well.  Having included the unidentified 'experts', it is now time to 'blame the foreigners'.  "As an EU member state (not for much longer though), the UK is subject to new EU regulation which implements the Protocol in the EU, " says John Dickie, senior research leader in the 'Millenium Seed Bank', which is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "Users of genetic resources in the UK will need to show 'due diligence' that the resources were acquired legally".  Once again, Mr Khadka has either not read or understood the Nagoya Protocol.  I refer Mr Khadka to "Access and Benefit Sharing and the Nagoya Protocol", Working Group Statement on Compliance and "Wild Collected seed in plant society seed exchanges" - this meeting considered the implications of the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and compliance of seed collectors with laws and regulations concerning collection of plant material in the countries of origin of the seed.  In addition to the CBD, there are restrictions on the utilisation of genetic material acquired from signatory countries, after the implementation date of the Nagoya Protocol.  So in practical terms we are talking about 2015 onwards.  However, the definition of utilization does not include cultivation, whether for private or commercial use (i.e. individual amateur growers or those running specialist nurseries, with a small number of staff, at times a one man show).  Thus selling seed for such purposes (which will include study and education at places like Sheffield Botanical Gardens, mentioned earlier - which operates purely for cultivation purposes, not utilisation, so has no requirement of written consent from the countries of origin!  Mr Khadka has got it wrong, yet again.

SO LET ME SPELL THIS OUT, THE PLANTS GROWING AT SHEFFIELD BOTANICAL GARDEN, COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN RAISED FROM SEED SUPPLIED IN 2015 (OR  2014).  IT TYPICALLY TAKES AT LEAST SEVERAL FOR HIMALAYAN SPECIES TO REACH FLOWERING SIZE WHEN GROWN FROM SEED.  THE PLANT MR KHADKA HAD PHOTOGRAPHED AT SHEFFIELD BOTANICAL GARDEN, JUST MONTHS NOT YEARS, AFTER THE IMPLEMENTATION DATE OF THE NAGOYA PROTOCOL (THUS THE NEW EU REGULATION DOES NOT APPLY TO THESE PLANTS).  MR KHADKHA DOES SEEM TO BE SOMETHING OF A FOOL..... So the new EU regulations do not apply to plants in the Himalayan Bed at Sheffield!!!  Mind you, the purpose of Mr Khadka going to Sheffield was to try (he failed) to "dig some dirt about Chris Chadwell".....

Straight away, it was abundantly clear to me that the main focus of the Nagoya Protocol is the possible use of drugs which generate millions in income for drug companies, if they were derived from a plant species restricted to a region of the world, a few or only one country.  In such circumstances, who would argue againt the country of origin receiving a fair share of the benefits arising.  But as always, this is much more complicated than at first appears.  How often, in history have Himalayan species resulted in vast sums being made by these drug companies?

Experience has taught me that it takes time to learn the correct interpretation as to the implementation of new rules, regulations, laws etc.  As Mr Khadka is no legal expert (if he was, he would no doubt have bragged about it), self-evidently, from the above, knows nothing about botany or seed-collection, yet immediately condems others. Has he read "Nagoya Protocol Enters Into Force, Will be Tested in Months to Come" and similar?  Perhaps, if he had bothered, it might have dawned on him, that it had little or nothing to do with seed collection or subsequent cultivation.

Mr Watson (for the record it is Dr Mark F Watson; I am surprised Mr Khadkha failed to mention the doctorate, to give him greater weight) From the Edinburgh gardens said that people growing plants at home should be aware of where their plants are from and what impact their removal could have on those countries and local people.  LIE NUMBER NINE. Firstly, the plants are not removed i.e. dug-up (except on Edinburgh Botanical Garden expeditions, who return with living plants as well as seed) but only seed gathered, which does not damage wild colonies/populations unless excessive amounts are taken by scouring the neighbourhood for vast quantities.  Has Dr Watson not read or understood the Nagoya Protocol - as 'cultivation', quite rightly is not 'utilization', with nothing to do with theoretical exploitation of genetic resources!  It does not damage the environment not deprive locals of theoretical income - I know that educated people in India view primitive tribal peoples and those in remote areas, with contempt, considering themselves superior to them.  Where is the evidence to show that such people will receive a fair share of any financial spoils which reach the governments of Himalayan countries or their officials?  I would not trust such officials, yet they 'pretend' to be concerned that such 'simple' people (in their thinking) might be exploited. But what has that to do with an amateur plant enthusiast who enjoys growing more unusual plants from seed in their private garden?  I have never had anything to do with drug companies or even pure non-commercial research into drug plants.

I personally, have "put back" a lot (and am continuing to do so, currently working on a project of NW Himalayan flora, which no botanical garden or other botanical institutions has ever managed.  These digital photographic guides, will be far more use than e.g. Edinburgh Botanic Gardens 'Flora of Bhutan' (published in parts over a 17 year period) or the current 'Flora of Nepal' project.  Perhaps they could tell me how many Bhutanese use or understand this flora?  Perhaps, one of the reasons I was targeted was Edinburgh's objection at being "shown-up" by a freelance botanist.  Or is it the Indian Government's 'Botanical Survey of India' which has been shown-up?  Politics?

I also refer you to: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/illegally-collected-himalayan-plant-specimens-stored-at-edinburgh-botanical-garden-uk.  This makes pertinent reading.  It seems the 'rules' do not apply to Mr Watson/Edinburgh Botanical Garden - it really should check as to their source.  Why has Edinburgh routinely accepted plant specimens from the Himalaya illegally?  They are a major 'botanical' garden (whereas Sheffield, are only a minor one, in comparison, so they can be 'named & shamed in BBC articles) but Edinburgh can pretend to be virtuous, knowing that BBC World Service journalists have insufficient expertise or knowledge to investigate them!!  Unfortunately, Chris Chadwell knows full well what "goes on behind-the-scences."

Finally, Mr Watson, said, "A fair analogy is to compare the fair trade type of movement: people are getting more aware these days of sourcing food ethically, and it is about time people should be thinking the same thing for the plants they are growing in their garden".  Sorry, I strongly disagree that this is a 'fair' analogy - there is a GREAT DEAL wrong with supposed 'Fair Trade'.  IF, we were serious about 'Fair Trade' then fundamental changes would be required.  Perhaps Dr Watson has been taken in.  But Dr Watson must know what has been going on at Edinburgh Botanical Garden.  The BBC had better select their spokespersons next time. As for Mr Khadka - it seems that unless something is readily available on the internet, he cannot discover and facts.  After all, he only knew about Chris Chadwell (and thus Sheffield Botanical Garden) because it was on Chris Chadwell's web-site!  What amazing investigative skills.

And what is Dr Watson (or indeed Edinburgh Botanical Garden as a whole) doing that is different to what I "put back" to the Himalaya?  It is just a question of scale. I founded and run the Himalayan Plant Association.  I have undertaken more botanical expeditions to the Himalaya than any member of staff working there. I am curator of what was the world's smallest botanical garden.  I offer a free plant identification for plants photographed in the NW Himalaya.  I am currently compiling a series of digital photographic guides to four districts of the NW Himalaya  (to be published in 7 parts over a two-year period) see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/wild-flowers-of-nw-himalaya-digital-guides. Edinburgh Botanical Garden published a printed 'Flora of Bhutan' (published in 9 or 10 parts, which took  a period of 17 years, despite funding and full-time staff).  Perhaps one of the reasons Chris Chadwell was picked-on is because in these days of Institutionalised science, Institutions such as Edinburgh feel he is showing them up and that his guides (floras) are going to be of more use than their effort for Bhutan (or the one in preparation, covering Nepal)?  The obvious thing to do would have been to support and encourage the likes of Chris but, as Chris has discovered, individual members of staff have their own little empires....

Dr Watson enjoys (as well as a full-time salary and permanent position)"all expenses paid" trips to Nepal he undertakes, either to participate in collecting expeditions or attend editorial meetings of the 'Flora of Nepal', such as the sixth in 2015, held at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Kathmandu, 16th March 2015 (presumably 2 more have taken place since).  He and Editorial Board member Dr Colin Pendry plus Mr Max Lino, all from the Edinburgh Botanical Garden, were funded?  The main session had 5 members of the National Steering Committee, 3 members of the Editorial Board plus 6 invited participants from Nepal.  Finally, 1 Advisory board member, I Editorial board member and 1 invited participant from Japan.  I make that 20 participants.  Perhaps, instead of attending such meetings, the participants (who could have accomplished exactly the same by e-mail and if needs be, Skype) should spend their time working on completing 'Flora of Nepal')?

There was a technical session as well, with a mere 15 participants.  It covered: 1. Institutional nominations to the Editorial Board; 2. Volume Editors; 3. Limiting factors for Nepalese taxonomists contributing to the Flora of Nepal; 4. Fieldwork opportunities.  It appears to me that the priority and focus should be on 3 & 4, not 1 & 2.  'Chickens & Eggs'/ 'Horses & Carts'. Surely, 3 & 4 should have been addressed at the very first Editorial meetings, years ago!  Could it be that those, like myself, who do not enjoy the luxury of being funded, just "get on with things".  I am reminded of what was written about my late grandfather,  Lt.Leonard Chadwell MC,
"..DOING THE WORK OF THREE MEN AND ALL WITHOUT FUSS.  HE MADE NO DIFFICULTIES HIMSELF, AND HAD LITTLE PATIENCE WITH THOSE WHO DID. "LET'S GET ON WITH IT" HE USED TO SAY WHEN DIFFICULTIES AROSE, AND HE DID. "

Is the real reason Chris Chadwell was so unfairly targeted in this article, is that he continues to "show up" and expose the short-comings of institutions both in Himalayan countries and the UK?  You decide....  More than 30 years ago, Chris approached the then Director-General of the Botanical Survey of India, suggesting he collaborate with Indian botanists on an up-to-date flora for Ladakh; he was told, that was for 'Indian' botanists only.  Well, there is still no sign of such a flora published in India (and if it had been, it would have been of a poor standard).  Instead, Chris Chadwell is currently compiling a digital guide to the 'Wild flowers of Ladakh) covering all species (thus qualifying as a flora), also Kashmir, Lahaul & Himachal Pradesh. 

I am not impressed with Dr Watson (presumably no relative of the 'Dr Watson' - Sherlock Holmes would not be impressed either).  IF, he had been misquoted or the implications of what Mr Khadka quoted, were not accurate, he could easily have contacted me to apologise but no such communication has been received.

I thus am fully entitled to respond, in kind (so to speak), see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/illegally-collected-himalayan-plant-specimens-at-edinburgh-botanical-garden-bbc-not-investigating-1 with more to follow, if required.  Talk about double-standards and a 'holier than though' approach.  The problem for Dr Watson, is that he has not checked his facts nor realises the 'inside' knowledge I possess.  I recollect the person in charge when I worked as a consultant to the Royal Government of Bhutan, commenting, disapprovingly, that I "knew too much".  IF Edinburgh or the BBC for that matter, decide to play even dirtier in the future, rest assured, I have more ammunition to share with the world..... And I deal in facts, which tend to be embarrassing.  I have been foolish enough to protect certain individuals, societies and institutions but why should I any longer.

I MAKE THAT EIGHT DOWNRIGHT LIES COMBINED WITH MISLEADING INFORMATION AND NUMEROUS COMMENTS OR QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO UN-NAMED 'EXPERTS' (IN MR KHADKA'S OPINION) OR OFFICIALS.

THE BBC KNOW WHAT THEY WILL GET WITH MR KHADKA.  YOU MIGHT EXPECT A GENUINE 'EXPERT' TO WORK FOR THE BBC? WHAT SCIENTIFIC QUALIFICATIONS DOES HE HOLD?  A DEGREE (IN WHAT).  A HIGHER DEGREE?  I SUSPECT NO RELEVANT TRAINING WHATSOEVER - THE EXPLANATION, A POLITICALLY-CORRECT APPOINTMENT.  AFTER ALL, BEING FROM NEPAL, HE AUTOMATICALLY HAS A DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE HIMALAYA....

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