South Australia has some beautiful and delicate orchids. Most are not showy. Instead they have a subtle attractive beauty. But they are declining; and for that reason, they are protected by the law, specifically the Native Vegetation Act 1991. Picking the flower is illegal let alone digging up the whole plant.
The only situation where a person can legally remove an orchid or part thereof is when they hold a government authorised permit. Legitimate reasons for collecting orchid material include specimen for the State Herbarium, scientific research, rescue or salvage situations when a development is occurring, or collecting seed of threatened species to store with the Seed Conservation Centre.
Without a permit, no one can remove any part of a plant even if their reason is legitimate.
It behoves members to be cautious of any one that asks for assistance with collecting, transporting or photographing potted orchids. Ask to see their permit. So, what do you do if you suspect someone of picking the flowers or digging up the plants? Contact the Department Environment and Natural Resources Investigation and Compliance Unit.
There is only a very small number of NOSSA members who hold such permits. Thelma Bridle, NOSSA Conservation Officer, is the person who will know which members hold a permit. For more information on plant collection permits, contact DEWNR at DEWNRresearchpermits@sa.gov.au or visit the website.
Thank you to Thelma Bridle and Doug Bickerton for their assistance and critiquing of this post.