Supporter Spotlight: Orchid Conservation Alliance

Aaron Rogers

Sep 6, 2017


Orchid Lovers Band Together to Protect Rainforest Habitats.

  • Trichosalpinx Bricenoensis. Photo courtesy of Salvamontes Corporation.

Founded in 2006, the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA) is an organization comprised of 548 individuals and 35 orchid societies whose goal is to promote the conservation of orchids and orchid habitat around the world. This mission eventually led the OCA to support Rainforest Trust’s work in protecting vital habitat in South America, because many species of orchid are found only in tropical forests. Donors since 2008, the OCA has helped fund Rainforest Trust’s projects that create protected areas in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. But much like Rainforest Trust, their mission doesn’t stop in South America, as the OCA is open to orchid conservation anywhere this elusive, yet stunningly beautiful family of plants reside.

“We have no paid staff and we are entirely volunteer,” said Director and OCA President Dr. Peter Tobias. “Yet with Rainforest Trust’s help, we have donated more than $250,000 to the preservation of orchid habitat, and thus to everything else that lives in those forests.”

Roughly 10,000 of the estimated 25,000-plus species of orchid worldwide reside in tropical rainforests, with 880 species of orchid appearing on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, thus making the mission of Rainforest Trust and partners like OCA so critical to their survival. To date, the OCA has helped Rainforest Trust protect more than 457 acres of orchid habitat, including the expansion of the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve in Colombia and the establishment of the Dracula Orchid Reserve in Northwestern Ecuador.

  • Lepanthes Culex. Photo courtesy of Salvamontes Corporation.

“We support Rainforest Trust because they double the money we contribute to orchid conservation projects in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia,” said Dr. Tobias. “We are a community of orchid lovers and rainforests are where most of them grow, so this partnership makes sense as it lets our members double their contributions…it makes a huge difference.”

This is why funding Rainforest Trust’s work is so vital. Protection of orchid habitat not only preserves orchids, but also their pollinators, and other threatened or endangered species as an additional bonus. In fact, most orchid species depend on a single type of pollinator, be it bees, birds or bats. If the specific pollinator species is eliminated, the particular orchid that depends upon it can easily become extinct.

“The planet is going to the dogs. We have to save what we can. Don’t put it off…every day forests are felled, plants are collected and the natural world is in extremis,” said Dr. Tobias.

In addition to donating money to support orchid conservation throughout the world, the OCA, much like Rainforest Trust, offers trips to these remote habitats, so that individuals can experience the beauty of these endangered species in the wild. They state on their website that: “An orchid blooming on a tree trunk in the sun and rain of its native habitat is one of the miracles of the natural world every orchid lover should see at least once.” To learn more about the Orchid Conservation Alliance and their work, please visit their website.