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Replanting of Tibet's orchids a blooming success

By PALDEN NYIMA and DAQIONG in Lhasa | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-05 09:31
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Farmers plant orchids on a tree trunk in a forest to return them to the wild in Metog county, Tibet autonomous region. [Photo/China Daily]

Metog county in the Tibet autonomous region has recently replanted hundreds of wild orchids and worked to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the flower, according to the county government. More than 300 plants were donated by residents of Drepung township, who wished to return the orchids to their natural surroundings.

The government's replanting initiative was co-sponsored by the Metog Forestry and Grassland Bureau, the Drepung township government, residents of Jeling village, and the ShanShui Conservation Center, an environmental NGO.

As the second largest family of angiosperms-vascular plants with stems, leaves and roots-there are more than 700 genera and 20,000 species of orchids around the world, according to ShanShui. Through surveys, the center has found that although cultivated orchids are widely available, many people still prefer to grow rare wild orchids at home.

"The pressure on wild orchids from collectors is increasing, threatening their natural environment, which increases the need for protection as they are now considered severely threatened species," said Zhao Xiang, director of ShanShui.

The national list of protected wild plants issued in 2021 includes 293 orchids, among which seven species, as well as the entire Paphiopedilum (Venus Slipper) genus, have been put under the first-class State protection.

Located at the foot of the Himalayas, Metog is a global biodiversity hot spot and is one of nine counties with the greatest variety of orchids in China. "Due to the huge differences in altitude, which span many different climate and vegetation zones, Metog has a unique and rich ecosystem," said Zhao, adding that the area is favorable to the growth of orchids and that ShanShui will continue to encourage residents to replant their orchids in the wild.

"Our villagers all like orchids, but we like them more when they're growing in nature," Dorje Phuntsok, Jeling village's leader, said. "It is a good thing they have been replanted in the wild because it is good for their protection. The 300 donated by the villagers have been grown for generations in the nearby wilderness. We hope the land will soon be dotted with orchids."

Zhou Jun, deputy head of the Metog county government, said: "Metog is a key protection area for orchids, and I hope the attempt to restore them in the wild will become a model for orchid conservation in China. Our county will rely on the environment for its future development, and I hope that more residents will benefit financially by becoming involved in the protection work."

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