Saving Orchids Could Help Keep the Peace in Colombia

The orchid-laden nation of Colombia has suffered a violent past. Colombian scientist Tatiana Arias hopes to use the country’s orchids to help keep the peace. In the last few years, a fragile peace treaty has ended six decades of violence between drug cartels and the government. Now, many rural areas need a reliable source of income. With over 4200 native orchid species, more than any other country, Colombians are rightly proud of their floral heritage. In fact, the national flower is Cattleya trianae. Arias, who earned her doctorate at the University of Missouri, wants to catalog and cultivate orchids to improve peoples’ lives. By turning to ecotourism and horticulture, she hopes to offer a stable economic future. It’s a massive endeavor, and will take years of work by her and many other scientists. Arias has support from the Colombian Orchid Society, and is making progress towards her grand goals.

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