This month we welcomed Amy Hinsley who spoke on ‘Wild Orchids and Conservation’. Amy is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Durrel Institute for Conservation and the Environment at the University of Kent, researching conservation and the orchid trade. She has previously worked as a volunteer in botanical gardens abroad and with Fauna and Flora International in Cambodia.
She began by outlining the threats to orchids with one of the prime factors being habitat loss. Logging, both legal and illegal have reduced the amount of tropical forest have resulted in the extinction of species such as Bulbophyllum bifrenaria and Cattleya maxima in the wild. Changing agricultural practices threaten terrestrial orchids, while climate change is causing some species to move to higher altitudes, e.g. Malaxis sp. in the Seychelles. Climate change is also putting the flowering season of plants out of sync with their pollinators, resulting is loss of seed production. Further pressure is put on plant communities by collection for food, traditional medicine and horticulture.
Ways of preventing pressures on orchid sites and their populations were suggested. These included strictly protected areas such as national parks, reducing the rate of climate change and enforcing a strict ban on the trade of endangered species.