Orchids of the cloud forests of southwestern Colombia and opportunities for their conservation

  • Jorge E. Orejuela-Gartner Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, Environmental Administration Program, Environmental Studies for Sustainable Development Group,km 2 via Jamundí, Cali, Colombia and Cali Botanical Garden, Avenida 2 Oeste # 220 D-140, Cali, Colombia.


Between Colombia and Ecuador, the two richest countries in the world in orchids, 9,000 species are found or thirty percent of all knownspecies. However, in both countries the number of orchid species threatened with extinction may well add up 3,000 species, a figure quiteworrying when you consider that the main cause of this extinction is the deforestation of Andean forests. These forests provide most ofthe water resources for the large cities, agriculture lands and industries of these nations. One could say that where there are still forestsrich in orchid populations there will also be healthy human populations. The La Planada, Farallones de Cali and La Mesenia natural areas inthe Guiza, Cali-Jamundí and San Juan river basins respectively represent examples where the richness and endemism of their more than400 species registered thus far coincide with the importance of the ecosystem services provided to the cities of Ricaurte and Tumaco in thedepartment of Nariño, Cali-Jamundí in Cauca Valley and Jardín/Andes in Antioquia, where some critical areas of cloud forests have beenidentified for conservation. Images are presented of endemic, threatened and newly described orchid species of Colombia’s Western