IUCN Species Survival Commission Grant to strengthen Global Trade Programme
The Orchid Specialist Group has received new funding from IUCN SSC to strengthen its Global Trade Programme.
Seriously threatened by illegal and unsustainable trade, with species in every corner of the globe and across a diversity of habitats, orchids represent a huge challenge for biodiversity conservation. Despite this, orchids remain a low conservation priority, seen simply as a background to more charismatic species like pangolins and tigers, a phenomena known in the sector as "plant blindness".
The Programme is excited to receive this new grant, which will support more broader public engagement about orchid conservation; help recruit a broader geographic and taxonomic representation within the OSG membership, and drive greater public recognition of the OSG's priorities and expertise.
Orchids make up 70% of all species listed by CITES, yet the number of orchids in need of Red List evaluation is overwhelming. This grant will support the creation of a new database for orchid species in commercial trade for medicinal purposes for which experts hold conservation concern, effectively creating a priority list of species suspected to be threatened by trade, guiding efforts of evaluation.
Conservation debates--both online and in policy circles--are regularly dominated by animals. There is surprisingly little content and discussion about plants.
This grant will support the OSG to generate new, engaging, informative and outward-facing online content to highlight the importance and scale of global orchid trade. We will highlight new blogs and provide updates on orchid-related events, including seizures, stories of investigations, emerging threats and recent research. This will include collaborating with members and external plant scientists to create stories, podcasts and social media posts that will be prominent on our website and Twitter feed.
This is an opportunity to feature the work of our members publicly and build a strong and active hub of content on this topic. Notably, this includes engaging early-career members in Brazil, Nepal, Indonesia, Myanmar, UK, USA and Greece. This online presence is needed by our members to substantiate claims, justify proposals and highlight the scale and severity of illegal orchid trade.
The grant will fund Emma Palser, an early-career conservationist from the UK, to lead on these actions as a dedicated, regular contributor to our community-building and communications efforts. As a recent graduate, Emma now works in Cambodia and is excited to apply her knowledge and enthusiasm to raising the profile of illegal orchid trade!