We have good news to report. Our conservation efforts are paying off, in the form of additional acres of rainforest purchased in Ecuador. A large and valuable reserve is now even bigger than before!
Many heartfelt thanks to all our GNTOS members who have supported Orchid Conservation this past year, either through direct donations or through fundraising sales. 2017 was yet another special year, in that we had a specific critical reserve to help support. Of course, I am talking about EcoMinga’s Dracula Reserve in northern Ecuador, which has now been expanded by 1450 acres, thanks to the support of GNTOS members, as well as other ecology-minded individuals and groups. Two acres of that 1450-acre expansion were funded by GNTOS when we stepped up to the challenge and partnered with the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA). Not only that, but when Rainforest Trust provided matching funds it doubled our impact.
The Dracula Reserve is rich in Dracula species, as well as in Pleurothallids. These two valuable species have inspired the OCA’s active participation in this area for years, even to the extent that OCA members from the west coast have made numerous trips to this region to see these species first-hand. Gary Meyer, President of the Pleurothallid Alliance, provided the following to OCA President, Peter Tobias:
This area is special for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this is the region with the highest Dracula diversity that we know of – anywhere. At least 19 species have been found here; most of them were originally discovered in this area. Two are natural hybrids that keep recurring, and one very rare species that lives here is not in cultivation at all. There are things that get reported from the area occasionally that have not been identified yet; likely, species are waiting to be described. In fact, I and my Ecuadorian friend Luis Baquero described Dracula trigonopetala just a few years ago after it was found here. In all my travels to study Draculas in situ I have never seen an area with this density of Dracula diversity….
How very exciting that these conservation efforts are being made and that we in GNTOS are participating. Even more exciting is that we are participating in new conservation effort beyond our usual Rainforest Trust, OCA, and Smithsonian native orchid support projects (Orchid Gami). This past year we expanded our support to include the AOS and the Fort Worth BRIT, both of which have received matching donations to double our efforts.
Did you know our American Orchid Society has a strong conservation program? We all should, of course, be supporting the AOS with our memberships, but the following efforts depend on people and organizations like us and our SWROGA Conservation Committee to support programs not covered by our annual membership dues. AOS’s year end appeal list includes the following funding needs:
- Research into orchid species propagation, cultivation of endangered species, and pollinator research to keep these orchids growing and flourishing in native habitats.
- Wild habitat conservation here and abroad, where either climate change or encroachment has threatened their existence.
- Support of botany students learning how these orchids survive and how to further protect their survival.
- Public education about orchids and their importance to our ecosystem.
One additional item on their Christmas wish list is the one SWROGA societies supports, mainly because the AOS can receive matching funds for our donations. The AOS Botanical Library which preserves their many rare and valuable publications, priceless works of photography and art in their expanding, one-of-a-kind orchid library will be the recipient of our donations.
When our donations are made to the AOS botanical library, AOS recognizes the donor in the next AOS Orchids magazine. For our SWROGA societies that provide free table space for our conservation fundraising at orchid society shows, the society will begin receiving the recognition for our AOS Botanical Library donation. The Fort Worth Orchid Society received the latest recognition after providing free tables at their last show.Also new this year is our focus on the Botanical Research Institute of Texas or BRIT, located next to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. The BRIT is a valuable venue for expressing our interest in botany and conservation, and provides a myriad of education programs, volunteer projects, and talks with botanists conducting ongoing research. Through their new affiliation with the Ft Worth Botanical Gardens, we will be seeing more opportunities to advance our desire for protecting and understanding all species so important to our environment in addition to the beauty they provide. Happy Holidays!
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