What is NAOCC?

NAOCC is a coalition of organizations dedicated to conserving the diverse orchid heritage of the U.S. and Canada. Based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, it also includes the National Zoological Park, the National Museum of Natural History, and Smithsonian Gardens. The U.S. Botanic Garden is the other founding partner. The initial group of public and private organizations that support NAOCC have joined forces with a common goal: to ensure the survival of native orchids for future generations. To this end, NAOCC’s collaborators are working to preserve habitats, create and maintain national collections of seeds and orchid mycorrhizal fungi, and support research on orchid ecology, conservation and restoration. An important goal of NAOCC is to provide the public with opportunities to join in the effort to conserve native orchids.

What are we doing?

The network of NAOCC collaborators will foster and support efforts to preserve orchid habitats and work with land managers to restore native orchids where populations have declined. In addition, survival of native orchids will be supported by development of national collections of orchid seeds and the fungi that orchids require. The seed and fungal collections will be available to support conservation efforts across the U.S. and Canada.
One NAOCC goal is to develop protocols and procedures for the production and propagation of all native orchid species in laboratory, greenhouse, and garden conditions. As techniques are developed for the successful propagation of native orchids, procedures will be developed to assure successful establishment and maintenance in natural habitats where orchids have been extirpated or are declining.
Native orchids are a natural treasure and their survival can only be assured by an effective education program that encourages individuals and organizations to support and become directly involved in NAOCC efforts at local, regional and national scales. This NAOCC goal will be accomplished by developing dynamic exhibits and using a wide range of electronic media to share information about NAOCC activities; including guidance for active involvement in NAOCC activities. Training will be an important component of NAOCC as is the development of an interactive web site that will enable anyone with access to the internet to identify any orchid in the U.S. and Canada and learn what is known about each species.

Why is it important?

There is currently no centralized effort to understand or preserve native orchids in the U.S. and Canada and the majority of the orchid research and propagation efforts have focused on tropical species. Research on temperate orchids has been conducted by a relatively small number of individuals, educational institutions, and botanical gardens. The pace of research and conservation efforts relative to native orchids in the U.S. and Canada is far too slow to assure the survival of the more than 50% of all native orchids that have been listed as threatened or endangered. Only through a focused large-scale and integrated effort that engages the public will survival of orchids be assured. NAOCC is the first nationwide collaborative effort to seek ways to conserve the orchids of North America.