APROVACA is the Spanish acronym for The Association of Orchid Producers of El Valle and Cabuya. Founded in 2001, we are a small grassroots association dedicated to the conservation of native Panamanian orchid species in danger of extinction. The local orchids are facing two main problems: deforestation and poaching. The trees in the surrounding mountains are being cut down, and since most orchids are epiphytes (meaning they grow on trees), this practice deprives orchids of their natural habitat. The act of poaching orchids to take home or sell at market has also been a major problem in El Valle de Anton. Although illegal, it is still commonplace.
Our mission is to contribute to the conservation of endangered Panamanian orchids. Our project consists of propagating about 100 different kinds of native orchids and reintroducing them back to the wild. After nurturing them here at APROVACA, the orchid plants are brought to the national nature reserve called Cerro Gaital where they are secured on local tree species, their preferred habitat. On a clear day, you can see Gaital from our orchid nursery but it is often covered in clouds, which is why it makes a great orchid habitat.
APROVACA’s orchid nursery and conservation center is located in El Valle de Anton (usually called simply El Valle), one of the top tourist destinations in Panama known for its cooler climate and wide range of tourist attractions. El Valle is nestled in the second largest inhabited volcanic crater of the world, which has nurtured its unique flora and fauna for millennia. APROVACA is a special place to visit in such special surroundings. We are open every day and you can enjoy our huge selection of mostly native orchids for a small admission fee. A guided tour with one of our knowledgeable guides will deepen your understanding and appreciation of these beautiful tropical flowers and Panama’s amazingly rich biodiversity.
In addition to displaying orchids to the visitors, APROVACA also sells horticultural hybrid orchids (Phalaenopsis), herbs, medicinal plants and other goods. We run a hostel, a small internet café, and a sponsorship program for Panama's national flower, the Holy Ghost Orchid (Peristeria elata) in order to raise funds for the sustenance of our conservation projects. APROVACA has been supported technically and financially by Japanese government institutions from its inception, but their aid is due to end in March 2012. We now need generous contributions from individuals like you to continue our orchid conservation efforts.