Rare orchids blossom but can never be sold in hills of Guatemala

Here’s a heartbreaker of a story, another example of CITES gone wrong.

A landowner and coffee grower in a remote area of Guatemala has a nursery (vivero) of over 600 varieties of rare and beautiful orchids that are indigenous to the area. Now, because of financial difficulties and counterproductive laws, the future of the nursery and the orchids in it is bleak.

“The irony for Mr Mittelstaedt is that, because of restrictions, he cannot sell the orchids and might have to close the vivero. ‘The law which is designed to save our natural flora from plant smugglers is also preventing us from selling what we’ve grown ourselves,’ he said.”

“When coffee prices were good it didn’t matter because it subsidised the vivero but now the market has collapsed the whole area is suffering.”

“Now most of that forest is gone. The biggest threat to the orchids is deforestation. It breaks my heart to see how much has been cut over the years. We only want to sell what we grow ourselves, but the timber mafia just come in and cut down the trees that belong to everybody. This is what globalisation means for Guatemala.”