Sniffing Out Threatened Orchids - A Threatened Species Project Talk

Threatened Species Project Talk - Sniffing Out Threatened Orchids
Thursday 2nd November, 6- 7.30pm

All proceeds of this talk go towards supporting Threatened Species .
Adults $10, Students/ Concessions $5

Melanie Kelly and Magali Wright talk about saving threatened orchids with the help of conservation dogs.

The Landscape Recovery Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that was established, by Enviro-dynamics with the aim of supporting conservation and land management with a particular focus on coordinating action on threatened species. One of the LRF’s projects is the Tasmanian Orchid Conservation and Research Program (TOCRP), which is a collaboration with the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). 

TOCRP aims to improve the conservation status of Tasmanian threatened orchids through the implementation of recovery actions identified in the National Tasmanian Threatened Orchid Flora Recovery Plan. The Recovery Plan identifies important conservation activities for 72 species occurring in Tasmania of which 36 are listed as threatened under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). TOCRP is hosted at the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre at the RTBG. It  is currently focused on the Tasmanian Midlands, where some of the States’s most threatened orchids are found. For a number of target species, there are so few plants known that the only way to improve their conservation status is to discover more populations through extension surveys or translocating propagated plants into new locations. Currently TOCRP undertake extension surveys with the help of volunteers, combing grassland remnants in spring-summer, looking for literal "needles in the haystack". While surveys in 2022-23 located new populations of the Midlands greenhood and the golfer’s leek orchid, this took considerable human effort.

To take this important survey work to the next level TOCRP are looking to train a specialised conservation canine to help. Dogs are being used across the world to find many rare and elusive biological targets to assist in conservation efforts. In the USA, the Desert Botanical Garden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference Initiative are already working with dogs to assist in searching for threatened orchids.

On the LRF team we have the invasive plant detection dog, Fonz who has been demonstrating the incredible ability of dogs to find highly cryptic plants in a broad variety of complex landscapes for many years. Whilst initial ‘proof of concept’ work has shown that Fonz can also find the scent of both the black-tipped spider orchid and the golfer’s leek orchid, we do not want to distract him from his important weed work.

To enable training of a new dog to locate the graveside leek orchid and a suite of six other threatened orchids from the Tasmanian Midlands, TOCRP are looking to raise $30,000. Working together with experienced conservation dog trainers Steve Austin and Ryan Tate who already work closely with detection dog Fonz and members of Enviro-Dynamics on invasive plant programs. This project will combine local Tasmanian experience together with national and international orchid conservation and conservation dog partners. This truly cutting-edge project will lead the way for threatened species conservation efforts across the world.

There are 683 species of plants and animals, including insects and other invertebrates, on Tasmania's Threatened Species List. Yes, there are the iconic ones so many people know about, but there are numerous species that are tiny, little known or ‘less attractive’, which are no less important to our rich and varied eco-system. This new exhibition will expand our understanding of the range & diversity of threatened species and educate of their plight. It also aims to raise much needed funds to go towards their support.

It’s a small thing we can do during an age of climate change, mass species decline and habitat loss. 

Collections: Events, Threatened Species Project 2023

Type: Event


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