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Auction to Return Orchids to the Jungle

Thailand has done well from our orchids. According to the government public relations web site, Thailand exports over two billion baht’s worth of cut orchids and around half a billion baht for plant orchids each year (20,000 tonnes). That number only makes up 46% of the nation’s total orchids production, however, as a further 30,000 tonnes is sold to the domestic market.

With such a robust breeding and exporting industry, it is therefore worrying that our jungles are becoming depleted of natural orchids.

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According to Assistant Professor Doctor Chita Inpar, an orchidologist at Mae Jo University, and member of the Foundation of Native Thai Orchids (Chiang Mai), there are around 1500 species and 150 genera of orchids in Thailand, making it one of the most diverse countries for orchid species in the world.

“We have good biodiversity,” said Asst. Prof. Dr. Chita, “Being in the tropics we have more than many other countries. We also have a long culture of growing orchids and they have always been a part of our gardens and have horticultural value. The dangers now is that we are not only breeding orchids, but people are going into the jungle and taking orchids from their natural habitats to sell. This has led to many species being on the brink of extinction.”

“We are not worried about orchid breeding, it is a strong industry and creates jobs. But we are worried about pure breeds in the jungle. We are developing great breeds in our farms, so there is no need to go into the jungle to get orchids. In fact, jungle orchids tend to be less beautiful, though they also are likely to be more resistant to heat or to disease.”

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Part of the mission of the foundation is to raise awareness and support activities and programmes for schools and communities bordering jungles to value orchids in the jungles themselves. The foundation is working to educate and offer support to villagers which may want to take tourists into jungles to see orchids in their natural habitats. Teach them how to preserve the variety of orchids for future generations as well as potential income by creating home stay tourisms.

“Orchids are an important indicator as to the health of a jungle,” said Asst. Prof. Chita. “Villagers who go into the jungle and indiscriminately collect orchids without understanding them do great damage. A healthy jungle should have many natural orchids growing off trees. If this isn’t happening then that is not a good sign.”

“If you want to buy an orchid, please buy a bred one. You can see that they are normally potted, and look more beautiful and vibrant. Orchids are also great plants to have in your home as they are very good at absorbing C02 during the nights. Don’t feel sorry for people selling them. Their behavior is killing our jungles. So simply buy an orchid from a farm.”

As part of the foundation’s activities, an orchid painting competition was recently held and on the 15th of February there will be an auction of these paintings, with all funds going to the association’s efforts to return over 300 species of orchids into Thailand’s jungles. The event will feature hundreds of paintings, in oil and acrylic, from students.

Visit the events page (in Thai) https://www.facebook.com/events/927860794015724/
Or simply go to the event itself:

From 3.30 – 5.30pm at Chiang Thong & Chiang San Room Meeting, KHUM KHAM International Convention Centre Chiang Mai in Chiangmai Business Park.

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