Saving orchids could help keep the peace in Colombia

Colombia has more species of orchid than anywhere else on earth and now Colombian scientist Tatiana Arias is hoping that cataloging and cultivating orchids can help improve the lives of rural and remote people.

Colombia has over 4200 documented species of orchids, but the race is on to both preserve the landscapes where they are found and to find better and more sustainable ways to cultivate certain varieties.

After a peace agreement heralded an end to more than six decades of conflict between Colombia's government and FARC guerrillas, many of remote areas there still need to find sustainable, lucrative industries to avoid a return to drug cultivation and conflict.

"There is a great opportunity here to understand basic aspects of our emblematic plant species of Colombia while connecting different stakeholders in conservation and sustainable microeconomics base in horticulture and plant ecotourism," Arias said, adding that it could also serve as a model for many regions of Asia where there are also great diversity of orchids and illegal trade.

Read more at Forbes (Andrew Wight)

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