Conservation of Orchids Through Research and ex situ Conservation Measures in Ngo Luong Nature Reserve, Vietnam
This is the final report of the EAP project on “Orchid Conservation through Research and ex situ Conservation Measures in Ngo Luong Nature Reserve, Vietnam”. The project is aimed to better conserve critically threatened orchid species through conducting simultaneous conservation measures, including field survey, ex-situ conservation through developing orchid plantation, and environmental education.
The following major achievements have been made:
- A better understanding of the distribution and current population status of highly endangered orchid species was provided.
- Alternative income from conservation through activities, such as ecotourism is generated, and demand on natural populations is reduced.
- The awareness of local people regarding ecological value and current threats toward orchid species in the region and effective conservation measures that can be used to save them is raised.
Within the last 12 months, CECAD has accomplished the following activities:
1. Inception workshop
It took CECAD more than two months to receive approval from the Hoa Binh Provincial People’s Committee, Lac Son district People’s Committee and Tu Do Commune People’s Committee. At the inception workshop, the project coordinator, project members, and key personnel presented the project’s objectives and the work plan to the local authorities and leaders of Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve. The project was well-received by the local authorities and local people.
2. Field survey and threat assessment
Fieldwork was carried out in October, November and December 2015. The survey team worked with staff of the reserve, the local authorities of the commune and the district to collect the secondary data/reports/maps as well as related documents produced by other projects carried out in the area. The team also carried out interviews with the local people, especially old people who have in-depth knowledge of orchids in the area and heads of the homestays in Tu Do commune in order to have better understanding of the household economy as well as the number of tourists who come to this destination and what their interests are.
The following were collected during the field survey:
- Changes that have taken place in the forests and land uses.
- The use and availability of forest resources.
- Historical background of orchid exploitation and hotspots of orchid collecting
- Market value of commercial orchid species.
- Distribution and current population status of highly endangered orchid species
- Orchid plantation at local households
The results include:
- Distributions, habitats and number of orchid individual and community, especially 3 critically threatened orchid species.
- Name of several orchid species that local people collect, plant and sell. Scientific assessments for possible ex-situ conservation and commercial planting were made.
- Two areas with 4 orchid species for both on-site conservation and tourism purposes were identified.
3. Orchid plantation (ex-situ conservation)
3.1 Study tour
A study tour to the Center for Flowers, the Ornamentals Research and Development (CFORD) of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Science (VAAS) in Gia Lam District in Hanoi’s suburb was organized for representatives of Tu Do People’s Committees, villagers, members of the Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve’s Community-based Ecological Tourism Association (CBETA) and the staff members of the Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve. Visitors visited the nursery garden where many orchid species had been successfully grown for commercial purposes.
3.2 Orchid planting training by experts from CFORD
3.2.1 Development of group regulations and establishment of community orchid nursery garden
After the study tour was organized, an orchid conservation community-based organization (CBO) was established. The group has 14 members, including those who have interest in planting orchids and heads of homestays in Tu Do commune. The head of the group is the head of Mon village in Tu Do commune. The group’s regulations were developed and its action plans were designed by its members, according to which a community orchid nursery garden near the forest would be established. A site near the forest that meets ecological and environmental conditions was selected by the oldest members of the commune together with experts. According to the members of the group, the garden will serve as a rescue center for other orchid species that are confiscated from illegal exploitation from Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve. They will later on be released back to nature.
As such, the whole community would be responsible for protecting the garden and exclude outsiders as well as those violate the group regulations. In addition, this initiative serves as an immediate and comprehensive effort to strengthen inter-community solidarity and save biodiversity of the area for future generations of Tu Do commune.
Before the training workshop on techniques of planting orchids and taking care of nurseries took place in Tu Do, CECAD wrote an official letter to the Board of Management of Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve to request permission to collect a number of endangered species of orchids from the forest for practice at the training.
3.2.2 Organization of training workshop on techniques of planting orchids and taking care of nurseries
The training workshop was conducted for the members of the CBO and CBETA, representatives of the Management Board of Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Nature Reserve and extension worker of the People’s Committee of Tu Do commune in March 2016. All participants actively participated in the training. Collected orchids from the forest were planted by all participants of the workshop in the community nursery garden. After the workshop, the members of the orchid planting group and CBETA are able to grow orchids themselves and hang them in the homestays in the villages as ornamental plants. It is hoped that this will become an additional attraction for tourists and create an educational opportunity for them. Forest rangers have been asked to provide tourists with information on the endangered species in order to avoid buying rare plants.
– Practical session:
+ Growing orchids in pots
+ Mounting orchids on pieces of tree branches which were selected and cut for artistic purposes.
+ Nursery garden site selection, design, orchid collecting and growing
4. Environmental Education Training
A training workshop on orchid diversity, value and threats was organized in May 2016 in Tu Do commune. Attended the workshop were local government officials from Tu Do commune’s People’s Committee, members of the orchid CBO and CBETA, teachers of the primary and middle school in the commune as well as other villagers. In addition to lectures and games in the class-room, the training included a field trip to the community nursery garden where the participants learned how to plant orchids as well how to conserve them. At the end of the workshop, participants gained a better understanding of ecological value of the plant species in natural habitat and threats they are facing, such as illegal wildlife trade, and the importance of diversity and well-being.
5. Environmental Education Campaigns
Contests/competitions on importance of biodiversity conservation were organized for middle school students, teachers and the Parents’ Association of Tu Do commune. At the competitions students had an opportunity to draw, sing and play-act in an interactive way.
Knowledge of middle school teachers and students as well as of the local community in Tu Do on importance of biodiversity conservation is improved through contests/competitions. The television and Radio Station of Lac Son district has broadcast news that contains the importance of biodiversity and the relationship between biodiversity and well-being. The title of the contests was to write stories or create slogans on forest sustainable development and biodiversity conservation, according to which students were taught in the form of extra-curricular classes on the importance of forests, forest inventory, bio-diversity conservation and inspire students’ wishes. Inspirational stories have been collected and put into the school wall paper in the traditional room.
6. Limitations and Recommendations
- Due to local people’s busy schedules, household members took turn to participate in project activities. As a result, it reduced the effectiveness of the base of knowledge that they would have gained from the project.
- Some villagers still doubt about the sustainability of the project after it comes to an end, partly because villagers would like to see immediate benefits right away and cannot afford a wait of more than a year’s time.
- Similar activities should be carried out in other villages and schools in the core and the buffer-zone areas of the reserve in order to expand the positive impact of the project to a large scale.
- Campaigns/contests and training should be organized more frequently for the same groups of people.
Cooperation and dialogues between villagers and the reserve rangers should be tightened so that endangered species of orchids in particular and biodiversity in general will be conserved.