Orchid Specialist Group member, Destrio Metusala, recently completed a scoping project on the harvest, trade and collection of wild Paphiopedilum lady slipper orchids in Indonesia. Among the most protected and endangered of orchid groups, Paphiopedilum species are heavily targeted for the ornamental trade in Indonesia and internationally.
This project aimed to understand more about the people who are buying these wild orchids, and whether they might be willing to help us protect them. This is important because, although buying these protect orchids from the wild is illegal, collectors often keep plants that could be incredibly important for conservation - especially as over-harvest leads to dwindling populations in the wild. Moreover, there are few botanical gardens in the region that hold significant collections of these endangered species.
Interviews with more than 70 orchid enthusiasts across Sumatra, Java and Papua Islands suggest that many orchid owners are willing to work with us to help protect these as ex-situ collections. Although there are huge limitations to working with privately-owned collections, we are now developing a trial strategy to help document these collections so they can be protected as reserve populations into the future.
Synchronicity Earth, which helped fund this work, recently highlighted this project in a feature article.
Paphiopedilum agusii. Credit: D.Metusala