A Blooming Trade: Illegal trade of ornamental orchids in mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar)

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The commercial trade of wild-collected ornamental plants in Southeast Asia has been almost completely overlooked. Official trade statistics in the region barely register the existence of an international trade in wild orchids (Phelps and Webb, 2015), and Thailand's CITES Management Authority suggests that illegal trade in ornamental orchids is limited, "found in small case [sic] in some parties" (CITES Prop. 40 [CoP13]). Orchidaceae is one of the most heavily protected taxa, and international trade in the entire family (~25 000 species) is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This includes approximately 1500 orchid species found in Thailand, Lao PDR and Myanmar, which also have domestic restrictions in place that limit wild orchid harvest and trade.

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