San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Climate Change Threatens 30,000 Species of Orchids

Global climate change is threatening the habitats of the world’s 30,000 species of orchids, according to Jorge Wagner, director of Lankester Botanical Gardens and organizer of the International Congress for the Conservation of Orchids held in Costa Rica last month.

Hundreds of experts are studying orchids around the world, and although there is no precise data about how many species are in danger of extinction, these scientists agree global warming is affecting them,Wagner said.

“There are many people who work in science but who don’t generate statistics that can be used by decision makers.We have to determine the magnitude of the problem, its causes and actions that should be taken,” he said.

With the goal of combating the extinction of these plants, every three years the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) holds the International Congress for the Conservation of Orchids.

Costa Rica was selected as the location this year because of its international reputation for preserving nature and because it contains 5% of the world’s orchid species.

During the congress, experts analyzed goals set by the IUCN, including protecting 90% of the world’s orchid species in botanical gardens by the year 2010.

“The threat against orchids, which produce the largest flowers in the world, is the same threat that now faces all human beings: global warming and human activities that destroy their habitat,”Wagner said.

In Costa Rica, 1,400 species of orchids have been discovered, 350 of which are unique in the world and at least 20 of which are at risk of extinction.


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