Wild orchid tuber collection in Iran: a wake-up call for conservation
2014 (English)In: Biodiversity and Conservation, ISSN 0960-3115, E-ISSN 1572-9710, Vol. 23, no 11, 2749-2760 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Wild orchids are traditionally harvested as Salep and used in traditional medicine and ice-cream production in Iran. Recently however, illegal harvest of wild orchids for export appears to have grown. This study aimed to: (1) determine the diversity of harvested wild orchid species and their collection sites in Iran; and (2) study the current harvest status and trade chain and volume to estimate the total orchid plant extraction from natural populations. Field surveys of collectors and market surveys of traders were conducted to establish the diversity of collected species, to identify harvest hotspots, and to document harvesting and trade volumes. Sixteen species and subspecies from 7 genera of Orchidaceae are collected for their tubers. Based on estimates from the 2013 April to June harvest season more than 24.5 tons of fresh tubers were collected from three districts in Golestan province alone. It is estimated that this amount of tuber requires the lethal destructive harvesting of 5.5 -6.1 million orchids, with a market value of 320,000 USD. In the Tehran Bazar Salep trade during May-July 2013 was 1.9 tons of dried tubers, with estimated retail value of 310,000 USD. Current orchid collection practices in Iran, which have soared in recent years due to international demand, do not seem sustainable as all tubers are collected destructively. To preserve orchid populations, in the longterm, establishment of specific Orchid Conservation Areas and introduction of sustainable production practices, could alleviate harvesting pressure. In the midterm, development of a DNA barcoding-based molecular identification system could help to monitor and control illegal trade. In the near term, effective implementation of collection bans in excessively harvested areas and strengthening of current regulations are necessary to avoid the catastrophic effects of harvesting on orchid populations, as has been observed in Turkey.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 23, no 11, 2749-2760 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230300DOI: 10.1007/s10531-014-0746-yISI: 000341081400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-230300DiVA: diva2:739846