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IUCN/SSC Orchid Specialist Group

The Orchid Specialist Group (OSG) of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the IUCN -- the World Conservation Union -- is to be reconstituted this year with the help of funding provided by the American Orchid Society (AOS), the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew), and the IUCN. The new OSG Chair, Phillip Cribb, Deputy Keeper of the Herbarium at RBG Kew, is inviting members to join the group until the end of the current IUCN triennium in the year 2000.

The OSG will consider how it might contribute toward the activities recommended and outlined in the 1996 IUCN publication, Orchid: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. These include:

  • the production of inventories or floras, designation of IUCN Red List Categories and identification of major threats in areas of Asia, Africa, Central and South America
  • the compilation of an on-line checklist of the world's orchids
  • collation of detailed ecological, population biology, and pollination biology data on all species listed on CITES Appendix I
  • preparation of information sheets on micropropagation, ecology, and cultivation of orchids
  • pilot studies on reintroduction of tropical epiphytic orchids in collaboration with the SSC Reintroduction Specialist group
  • a review of mechanisms by which technological and financial resources of the horticultural trade and hobbyist can contribute to range states to promote orchid conservation and sustainable use

A positive step forward for the OSG is the establishment of the first-ever official Secretariat, based at RBG Kew. This will provide a focal point for this large and high-profile group and ensure that activities are carefully administered and co- ordinated. In the months leading up to the plenary meeting of the OSG, which will be held at the 16th World Orchid Conference in Vancouver on 30 April 1999, the Secretariat will be aiming to improve communication among members by creating a listserver, web site, and orchid conservation newsletter. Regional groups will be established and members will be encouraged to attend appropriate regional meetings. A further important role of the Secretariat will be to investigate funding opportunities for orchid conservation projects to support the work of the group.

The OSG has achieved a great deal in the past, including the production of the IUCN Orchid Action Plan, the first plant action plan to be published, regular news updates in the Orchid Research Newsletter, and contributions to the continuing discussions on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). The newly reconstituted group will continue into the next century to contribute and make positive steps toward the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the world's orchid biodiversity.

Shelagh Kell, Executive Officer, IUCN/SSC Orchid Specialist Group.

Title Page
The Orchid Herbarium at Kew
Recent Orchid Nomenclature

I September, 1998.
Copyright The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.