Tag Archives: GROS speaker

Peter Tobias – “How and Why to do Orchid Conservation”

Next Meeting: Monday, Feb. 3, 2020

The idea of developing a way to fund orchid conservation projects grew out of discussions among the members of the San Diego County Orchid Society, around 1990. Soon a Conservation Committee was formed. Peter Tobias was its first chairman. A plan was put into motion by the committee members to raise funds by selling some of their excess plants. The first sale, in 1991, succeeded so well, that the program has continued to this day. Seeking to extend the reach of these efforts, Peter created a spin-off, the Orchid Conservation Alliance, an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff, but with a clear mission. Peter has since retired from his position as Associate Professor of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

photo of Peter Tobias with lemur on shoulder

You will often find Peter at the big orchid events, happy to explain what OCA has been doing. The Alliance now has dozens of affiliated societies and hundreds of individual members. They have been able to leverage donations to support a number of projects in South America, as well as putting conservation on the agenda of orchid lovers everywhere.

The Alliance takes great pains to select projects that have a high probability of long-term success. Anyone who has spent time in Latin America will have encountered stories of endless legal squabbles about land ownership. In some place, even squatters have successfully claimed ownership rights. OCA has persisted in spite of all the obstacles.

Partners have been found for funding, procuring property, and establishing long-term management. In other words, money is one ingredient, but conserving orchids in the wild involves a lot more than money. Peter and OCA have proved that orchid conservation is feasible even without huge resources, and they have developed a process to make it happen.

Peter’s talk will briefly describe the goals and methods of the OCA, focusing primarily on the Selva de Ventanas reserve in Colombia, and then show pictures from one of the OCA’s recent tours to Chiapas, Mexico.

Since Peter will not be bringing plants to sell, members are free to bring in their own orchids for sale/trade.

We’ll be taking Peter dinner at 5:00 p.m. prior to the meeting, at Aladdin’s Natural Eatery, 8 Schoen Place in Pittsford. If you’d like to join us (everyone pays for his or her own dinner – except Peter, of course) please contact Carol Butcher at 585-742-3403. The Show Table will be back, as usual, so please don’t forget to bring your flowering plants. We’ll see you there!