Papua New Guinea: thirty new orchid species discovered

Pink orchids, Papua New Guinea

From the Times Online in Papua New Guinea:

30 new species of orchid bloom in the rainforest

Species were uncovered in the Kikori region during a series of expeditions organised by Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Mon, 16 Oct 2006

PORT MORESBY, PNG —- Thirty new species of orchid have been discovered by conservationists in previously unexplored tropical rainforests in the Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The species were uncovered in the Kikori region during a series of expeditions organised by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) as part of its efforts to catalogue the floral diversity of the area.

“The island of New Guinea is a goldmine of orchids,” said Wayne Harris, a botanist from Queensland Herbarium and one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject.

“There are more than 3,000 known species found here.

The expeditions have added significantly to the known floral diversity.

Papua New Guinea already has more recorded orchid species than any other country in the world.”

The discoveries were particularly welcome because many species of orchid have been pushed into extinction in Indonesia.

Olo Gebia, an ecologist for WWF, said: “Around 70 species of orchid that used to exist in the forests of neighbouring Indonesia have become extinct because of illegal logging.

So these recent discoveries are especially good news.”

He added: “The sad reality is that many of the plants in the region, including those which may contain cures to some of the world’s most deadly diseases, may become extinct before they have even been discovered — this gives even greater urgency to ensuring the long-term conservation of the remarkable Kikori region.”

Kikori, which includes Lake Kutubu, is internationally recognised for the diversity of its plant life and has been the focus of several zoological expeditions by the wildlife organisation since 1998.

It is an area rich in plant and animal diversity.

Other species found there include birds of paradise, giant cassowaries and the tree kangaroo.

The announcement comes just a week before the official launch of two new wildlife management areas in the region.

They will help to protect the tropical rainforest areas where the orchids were discovered and are described by conservationists as an “important step” towards saving the habitat.

More than 20,000 people, from 12 ethnic groups, live in the area.

Papua New Guinea: colonial history.

Birds of paradise photo gallery: here.

Lady’s slipper orchid in the UK: here.

Papua New Guinea declares first National Conservation Area to protect tree kangaroos: here.

5 thoughts on “Papua New Guinea: thirty new orchid species discovered

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