Madagascar Orchid Conservation Project
Madagascar is home to over 1000 species of orchids. Over 90 percent of these are endemic to the island and most are known from very few specimens or appear to have restricted distributions with small populations. Preliminary conservation assessments for a sample of species suggest that as many as 70 percent of species are threatened with extinction, but there is insufficient data to make accurate assessments.
The Madagascar Orchid Conservation Project aims to accurately assess the conservation status of Madagascar's orchids and develop a conservation strategy, prioritising the most endangered species and implementing measures through single-species management and restoration projects or by liaising with conservation agencies, particularly the Système d'Aires Protégées de Madagascar (SAPM) managers.
The target for ex situ conservation is 500 species banked by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership or preserved by cryopreservation at Kew. Kew's Conservation Biotechnology Unit is developing techniques for collecting seeds of threatened species in the field for micropropagation and developing living collections for conservation. Threatened species collected this way will be stored via cryopreservation.
KMCC is developing an extensive programme surveying orchids throughout Madagascar and collecting seeds for seed-banking or cryopreservation. Micro-propagation facilities are planned for local project partner, Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (PBZT), to complement the greenhouse and shade-houses already in operation. KMCC is implementing a series of single-species projects to develop cost effective models for conservation with sustainable community participation where necessary. This will lead to a project prioritisation protocol for KMCC species conservation work based on robust cost-benefit analysis.
The first of these projects, has recently reintroduced Angraecum longicalcar to the wild with the help of a local community and school children in the Itremo region. The only known population had been reduced to about 12 plants.
Output 1: Taxonomy and systematics
- Malagasy version of Field Guide to the Orchids of Madagascar (Cribb & J.Hermans 2009)
- Molecular phylogeny and hotspot analysis
Output 2: Conservation assessment
- Preliminary conservation assessments for all species
- Full IUCN red-list assessments for endangered species
- Overview paper on current conservation status and outlining a conservation action strategy
Output 3: In situ conservation
- Data to Rebioma and Système d'Aires Protégées de Madagascar (SAPM) managers
- Community-based conservation of critically endangered species (funds permitting)
Output 4: Ex situ conservation
- 500 taxa (50%) banked by the MSBP and SNGF or in cryopreservation at Kew
- Critically endangered species in living collections (eg Kew and PBZT)
Project partners and collaborators
Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza
Silo National des Graines Forestières
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund