Endangered Philippine orchids to find ‘home’ in the wild again

April 14, 2009 1:26 am 

by Florante A. Cruz

LOS BAÑOS, Aprl 13 — The Philippines is home to more than 800 species of orchids, many of which are being collected and traded worldwide. However, unabated collection of our endemic flora has resulted to significant loss of natural orchids growing in the wild. In 2005, 143 orchid species in the Philippines have been listed as endangered by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.

To help protect and conserve the country’s rich floral heritage, a project led by Dr. Nestor Altoveros of UP Los Baños has embarked on the collection and re-introduction of indigenous orchids in selected protected areas of the Philippines. Started in 2007 with funds from the Department of Science and Technology, the project has already accumulated a large volume of seeds of indigenous orchids from all over the country. The seeds have been germinated and plantlets are maintained and conserved in vitro.

Dr. Altoveros recently reported that his project team was able to collect in 2008 a total of 200 orchid genotypes, representing 22 genera, from 9 provinces. Among the genotypes collected are three species included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species: Amesiella monticola, Phalaenopsis lindenii and Vanda javierae.

Forty-one (41) orchid species with 111 accessions are now being reared in vitro. Of these, 73 accessions are in the rooting stage, the last stage before the plants are potted out into community pots.

The project has continued transferring the cultures to partner organizations which help facilitate the re-introduction of the orchids in the protected areas. Cultures have been distributed to the Makiling Botanic Gardens at UP Los Baños, Western Philippines University-Palawan, and the Department of Agriculture-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City.

Dr. Altoveros, University Researcher of the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, said that additional reintroduction sites have been identified in Palawan. The indigenous orchids will also be brought to Palawan’s popular destinations such as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Saint Paul’s Subterranean River National Park and El Nido Marine Reserve Park. (PNA) ALM/FAC/rdenews

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