As of 1 April 2010, Orquídeas Moxviquil floral collection consists of over 3000 rescued plants with 418 species of the 700 recorded for Chiapas. The collections database has over 5000 entries of the epiphytes and other flora. Although this is an excellent beginning, it must continue to grow and mature, successfully creating the largest database of Chiapas flora available and an extensive living collection all dedicated to the people of the world.
Chiapas has the richest biodiversity in all of Mexico, and is one of the most important ecosystems in the world. Over 700 species of orchids are found in Chiapas alone, compared with 1300 in all of Mexico. Orquídeas Moxviquil has been successful in rescuing well over half of the positively identified Chiapas orchids. Cisco has collected in over 200 unique locations in Chiapas, from the Altos to the selva and many places in between. The principal locations represented in the collection are, the Los Altos, Comitán Valley, Lagos de Montebello, Ocosingo, the central Tuxtla Valley, and to a smaller degree, the southern terminus of La Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Cañon de Sumidero, the Selva Lacandón, and Naja.
The collection has rescued several orchids that are near extinction in their natural areas, saving many unusual and rare flowers from destruction. All orchids rescued are vital for maintaining a database of living bio-diversity, and for ensuring the multi-dimensional use of these endangered plants.
The Lagoon and Grounds
The grounds of OM, located a ten minute car ride, 15 minute bike ride, or 35 minute walk from the historical center of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, have grown to include two hectares of a rich botanical wonderland where bromeliads, orchids, ferns, cactus and a myriad of other plants cascade their otherworldly flowers from the lush branches of the majestic oak and manzanillo trees endemic to the area. Thousands of rescued orchids and other epiphytes have been placed on the trees by the employees of OM, creating a living museum of rescued and endangered plants and giving rise to a unique world for visitors and academics alike.
Amble along the paths surrounding the man-made lagoon, which collects rain water and up to 60,000 liters a day of pumped water from our year round spring, to irrigate the project. Seeded with the endangered Killifish, or Popoyote (Profundulus hildebrandi), the lagoon serves as a home for this micro-endemic fish in an effort to save it from extinction due to habitat destruction. On May 3rd the employees of OM noticed that there were dozens of baby Popoyote swimming in sheltered areas. Ten days later, hundreds of the fish were observed in many locations in the laguna. SUCCESS.
A small amphitheater now looks out over the area, perfect for educational visits, small concerts, presentations or poetry readings.
OM is also beginning work on a comprehensive indigenous, Maya, herb walk that will identify and describe common plants and herbs traditionally used by San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán, Tzotzil communities located only a few kilometers outside of San Cristóbal.
The visitor's center of OM will house photos, informational wall hangings, internet connections and a rotating display of orchids in flower in the OM greenhouses, and will be an integral part to the management plan of PRONATURA SUR for the Moxviquil site.
Not quite forest, not quite tended garden, OM harmoniously links the genius of aesthetic human design with the brilliance of nature herself. Even the design of the trash receptacles is intended to compliment and enhance man's relationship with nature.
The Moxviquil reserve is fundamental for the preservation of the remaining wild forests near the growing metropolis of San Cristóbal. The trails behind OM climb to the mountains north of Moxviquil, giving the visitor a chance to see orchids, ferns and bromeliads as they are in nature, along with several fascinating caves. The unexcavated Moxviquil Maya site, which is a kilometer distance from the PRONATURA SUR reserve, may be easily discovered by the adventurous.
OM has rescued in over 200 diverse and distinctly different areas of Chiapas and it is these areas that will be represented in the four unique greenhouses, each an architectural gem designed by varied national and international architects. Most orchids live about 5 to 30 meters above the forest floor, clinging to the upper branches of trees. Unfortunately, these plants are well out of eye range for people walking along the paths of the forests. By placing the orchids and other epiphytes at eyelevel, each greenhouse will mimic this natural setting so that visitors may be transported to the world of the tree tops, seeing, smelling and (gently) touching these extraordinary gifts of nature. The ecosystems will be composed of trees, bromeliads, orchids, cactus, ferns, and many other epiphytes all living sympathetically, duplicating, in our modest fashion, the unique regional atmospheres of Chiapas.
On 1 April 2009, construction of the first of four greenhouses was completed. As one enters the structure, the sights, aromas and sensations of being in another world give the visitor a transcendental experience. This first addition to the OM garden is meant to mimic the hot lands of Chiapas with its elevated temperature (30-33° C) and humidity (75-94%), tropical breezes, and other worldly feeling all mingling in harmony, allowing for the warmer weather cacti, bromeliads, and orchids to have a home at Moxviquil.
In time, these exceptional created atmospheres will be seductions for the visitor to explore other areas of Chiapas, especially the satellite gardens that will be established by OM and PRONATURA SUR in sites purposely selected for their unique natural habitats.
Surrounding the greenhouses will be open air areas, representing the highland mountain zones of Chiapas.