India has a rich diversity of over 1,200 species of tropical and temperate orchids, including many with floriculturally and therapeutically proven traits. The majority of them are, however, endangered due to unregulated commercial collection and habitat destruction.

To highlight this urgent issue and to draw up an action plan for the sustainable utilization of orchids, over 50 national experts from various fields took part in a two-day workshop organized by The Orchid Society of India (TOSI) with the support of IUCN India, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Govt. of India, and G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED). This national conference on ‘Systematics and Diversity Analysis for Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Orchids’ was held during 19–21 March 2010 at GBPIHED, Kosi-Katarmal, Almora.

The participants included Dr Manju Sharma (President, TOSI), Prof. Mohan Ram (Delhi University), Dr J.S. Rawat (Coordinator, Programmes & Constituency, IUCN India), Dr L.M.S. Palni (Director of GBPIHED), Prof. S.P. Vij (Founder Secretary of TOSI) and Mr U.C. Pradhan (Chair, ISROSG, IUCN). The MoEF recommended measures for effective conservation and sustainable use of orchids, besides suggesting orchid-based vocations, especially for women and unemployed youth, in consultation with the stakeholders. The major implementable recommendations of the conference include:

  1. Drafting an action plan for the conservation of orchid diversity, based on taxonomic and genetic-evolutionary approaches
  2. Conducting interdisciplinary research on the reproductive biology and ecology of orchids, with emphasis on pollination and seed biology, thereby stressing on the need to conserve pollinators along with orchids (a select group of five experts may be appointed for the purpose)
  3. Preparing a status report and drawing up an R&D road map for commercialization and marketing of orchids, relying on biotechnological applications, participation of local communities and creation of microenterprises
  4. Initiating an All India Coordinated Network Programme on Orchids – PROJECT ORCHID.