Left: Cattleya briegeri in situ in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Fires continually threaten the existence of many orchid habitats. Globally, land is being cleared for agriculture and mining at an alarming rate.
AOS Conservation Principles
The American Orchid Society (AOS) supports the preservation and maintenance, as well as the appropriate management, of native orchid habitats. The AOS also supports the establishment and maintenance of artificial orchid habitats for the ex-situ conservation, preservation and propagation of orchid species, as well as hybrids of historical horticultural significance.
Timely achievement of these objectives may be impaired by the mandated trade policies and practices used by the various signatory nations, as well as the internal environmental policies and practices of the various sovereign nations. The AOS believes that such policies and practices can be made more uniform, as well as facilitated by the use of the latest scientific and technical information and data as part of a continuing evolutionary process.
One of the most urgent actions would separate the regulation of trade in artificially propagated species and hybrids from that of wild-collected plants. The AOS believes that sufficient information and technology exist to provide all national regulatory agencies with the ability to quickly and efficiently discern artificially propagated from wild-collected plants.
CITES was intended to regulate and monitor international trade of wild species that are or may become threatened with extinction because of trade. CITES did not originally realistically provide for trade in artificial hybrids. Since the first orchid hybrid was flowered in 1856, more than 100,000 hybrids have been registered, more than three times the accepted number of species. The limited resources available for orchid conservation are being diverted to less productive avenues by the inclusion of orchid hybrids within the scope of current trade policies and practices.
One of the objectives of orchid conservation is to increase the availability of endangered or threatened orchid species by artificial propagation. The AOS believes that a spirit of facilitation is essential in international trade policies and practices to encourage commerce in artificially propagated orchid plants. The AOS also believes that, for the purpose of orchid species regulation, international and national trade policies and practices regarding the conservation of flora and fauna should:
• ensure that all exporting parties understand the precise definition of "artificially propagated plants" as used by the CITES Secretariat;
• include effective training, technology and information availability to enable inspectors to rapidly discern artificially propagated from wild-collected plants, and
• make every possible effort to ease the regulatory burden on artificially propagated orchid plants.