Mark Your Calendar: the 74th Annual Oregon Orchid Show & Sale is April 22-23, 2017 in Portland, OR

Conservation

Orchid Conservation

Orchid conservation comes in many forms. The Oregon Orchid Society has been a long time supporter of both in situ and ex situ conservation. Our involvement includes a partnership with the Orchid Conservation Alliance and the Orchid Conservation Coalition. If you have any questions about orchid conservation or want to be more involved in the conservation of orchids, let us know!

If you’re interested in regional profiles on orchid conservation and environmental advancements, check out our Orchids Around the World page.

WHY CONSERVATION?

Orchids have suffered from human development

Sprawl taking the place of native orchid habitat in China

According to the 1997 Species Survival Commission (SSC) there are about 34,000 threatened vascular plants – which is about 12.5% of all existing plants. Of these, 1779 are orchids. That’s almost 6% of the entire orchid family. Orchids are the second most threatened plant family in the world (behind asters).

Gone are the days when orchids were regularly being ripped from the wild by orchid collectors without any concern for their continued existence in the wild. It does, unfortunately, still occur in some places but today, much of the world has come together to preserve orchid habitat with legal enforcement.

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) program, while conjuring up many differing opinions, good and bad, from conservationists, is a clear sign that the world understands that orchid preservation should be a priority.

In situ conservation (preservation of natural habitat) is difficult, but it is happening. There is a constant battle to translocate orchids when development is taking place (here’s one story from Australia) or simply preserve the existing landscape as-is (read about such a place here). In the case of the latter, many locals have discovered that “eco-tourism” is a more profitable venture than clearing the land for agriculture. A further concern for conservation groups is the rate of development and the rate of new orchid species discovery. Climate change is also a concern. The Himalayas, for example, where over 20 new species of orchids have been discovered in the last decade, are being seriously threatened by changes in climate. For more information on orchid conservation, or to get more directly involved, check out these in situ orchid conservation websites:

The Orchid Conservation Alliance
The Orchid Conservation Coalition
Washington Native Orchid Society
The American Orchid Society
The Native Orchid Conference

Ex situ orchid conservation can happen in your home

An unlikely, but viable spot for orchid conservation!

Without the ability to travel long distances, Americans have a difficult time doing more than simply funding the conservation of in situ tropical orchids (though we can get involved with our local orchid habitat restoration). While we strongly encourage funding in situ conservation and as a society we directly fund such conservation, there is a very exciting opportunity as an orchid grower to directly participate in EX SITU (out of the wild) conservation. Saving the whales is impossible without in situ conservation because we‘d have to have our own oceans to keep our whales in, but ex situ orchid preservation can take place in greenhouses around the world and even in an Oregon windowsill. You can participate in ex situ conservation directly by registering your species orchids with the Orchid Conservation Coalition’s Living Orchid Collection. They are keeping a register of species orchids OUTSIDE of their native habitat (i.e. – in your growing space) for the sake of conservation. Find out more here.

There has already has been the complete destruction of some orchids’ natural habitat in the wild. It still happens today that careless governments pave over entire habitats, despite certain plants being endemic to that place, to build a highway, airport, urban sprawl or for agricultural purposes. Unfortunately, the CITES program has nothing to say about this – and because it does not allow the export of these species for propagation it actually can HINDER the preservation of orchids when these things occur. In fact, it is considered that today’s rate of extinction far exceeds the rate seen in the past from irresponsible collectors.

Currently, many of the common orchid species that we grow are nearly extinct or very threatened in the wild. Their habitat has either been totally demolished or, in some cases, irresponsible collectors removed too many specimens from the wild back when or where such practices have taken place. Here’s a small list of orchids you can find in propagation that are nearly extinct or very threatened in the wild:Without the ability to travel long distances, Americans have a difficult time doing more than simply funding the conservation of in situ tropical orchids (though we can get involved with our local orchid habitat restoration). While we strongly encourage funding in situ conservation and as a society we directly fund such conservation, there is a very exciting opportunity as an orchid grower to directly participate in EX SITU (out of the wild) conservation. Saving the whales is impossible without in situ conservation because we‘d have to have our own oceans to keep our whales in, but ex situ orchid preservation can take place in greenhouses around the world and even in an Oregon windowsill. You can participate in ex situ conservation directly by registering your species orchids with the Orchid Conservation Coalition’s Living Orchid Collection. They are keeping a register of species orchids OUTSIDE of their native habitat (i.e. – in your growing space) for the sake of conservation. Find out more here.There has already has been the complete destruction of some orchids’ natural habitat in the wild. It still happens today that careless governments pave over entire habitats, despite certain plants being endemic to that place, to build a highway, airport, urban sprawl or for agricultural purposes. Unfortunately, the CITES program has nothing to say about this – and because it does not allow the export of these species for propagation it actually can HINDER the preservation of orchids when these things occur. In fact, it is considered that today’s rate of extinction far exceeds the rate seen in the past from irresponsible collectors.

Currently, many of the common orchid species that we grow are nearly extinct or very threatened in the wild. Their habitat has either been totally demolished or, in some cases, irresponsible collectors removed too many specimens from the wild back when or where such practices have taken place. Here’s a small list of orchids you can find in propagation that are nearly extinct or very threatened in the wild:

 

Orchid habitat conservation is the key to lasting orchid preservation

Native orchid habitat in the US often looks like this.

Laelia gouldiana
Dendrobium aurantiacum
Laelia milleri
Dendrobium phalaenopsis (bigibbum)
Mystacidium (Epigeneum) capense
Dendrobium lowii
Inobulbon (Dendrobium) munificum
Paphiopedilum vietnamense
Cymbidium sinense
Paphiodedilum victoria-regina