Community group needs your help to map native orchids in Macarthur region

Have you spotted some pretty flowers around town, but weren't sure what they were?

There's a good chance they could be native orchids.

The Macarthur Australasian Native Orchid Society (MANOS) is conducting a survey of native orchids in the region, and they need your help to complete the task.

MANOS Secretary Ross Morrison said anyone could take part.

"All we want people to do is when they go bushwalking, or even just in their yard, to take photos of the plants they may not know and think might be native orchids, send them to us, and we'll identify them and give them some information about the plants," the Minto resident said.

"This information will help in our survey into where the native orchids are in Macarthur. We've already got a pretty good ideas, but we just want to see if there are some areas that we haven't known about."

Mr Morrison says about 75-80 per cent of the more than 80 species of native orchid across Macarthur are terrestrial orchids, which means they grow underground for most of the year and only surface for about a 12-week period.

He said this meant that biodiversity impact surveys for developments often missed the plants.

MANOS has been awarded community grants from AGL's Camden Gas Project to conduct the survey through to the end of 2021.

"Firstly, the survey will help us know where the orchids are," Mr Morrison said.

"But secondly it will allow us to offer assistance and maybe rescue some of the orchids, move them to other areas, with the help of National Parks and Wildlife, or grow them on to repopulate areas.

"One of the challenges we face is that fauna, like koalas and other animals, generates a bigger emotion than plants in trying to save biodiversity across Macarthur.

"And our biodiversity is dwindling quickly for various reasons."

AGL Community Relations Manager Marina Draper said AGL was pleased to be working with MANOS to help preserve the native orchid populations in the region.

"We know regional communities across NSW have been severely impacted by severe drought, bushfires and Covid-19 but we are committed to doing what we can to help our local communities not only rebuild by thrive," she said.

"This work is critical and will go a long way in supporting and protecting these orchid species which are not just unique to Macarthur but bring much beauty and colour to our region."

Mr Morrison said there were plenty of native orchids in areas like Kentlyn, Maquarie Fields, along the Georges River, the Thirlmere Lakes area, Dharawal National Park at Wedderburn, and in various backyards across the region.

"I went to a property at Tahmoor last week and found five orchids in the one-acre lot," he said.

"You'll also find there will be industrial areas that have natural bushland and orchids will still be there.

"I want to highlight that we do need the community's assistance in this survey, and if they email us we'll get back to them as quickly as we can."

Email your orchid pictures to MacarthurANOS@gmail.com.