NCR Fellow, Reshu Bashyal, and her mentors, Jacob Phelps and Amy Hinsley, have been invited to submit a Stage 2 application to the UK Government’s Defra Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. If successful, this grant would support Reshu’s proposed work to lead the first in-depth study on illegal orchid trade in Nepal.
Orchids are highly sensitive to over-harvest. Nepal hosts >100 species of orchids traded internationally for Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines-much of it from the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL), with widespread reports of population declines. Most trade is illegal, although a quota-based system of legal harvest has been introduced. However, conservation focuses on megafauna, and the government has largely overlooked orchid trade, resulting in little CITES documentation, limited enforcement and monitoring, and no baseline data.
This project would reduce illegal orchid trade by documenting trade dynamics, producing the first analysis of medicinal orchid trade in Asia. It would lever this to increase government engagement, providing strategies to strengthen enforcement, increase seizures and integrate orchid conservation policy (e.g., CHAL Strategy and Action Plan). It would also use this information to ensure that CHAL harvesters and traders understand the rules governing orchid trade.
The project aims to support legal, sustainable orchid harvest by rural communities, as an alternative to illegal trade. It would implement the first orchid harvester self-reporting scheme, collecting data on harvest areas, volumes, plant ages and prices. Self-reporting can collect data vital to evaluating harvest sustainability, which we will pair with Population Viability Analysis to develop science-based management strategies.