All proceeds from the Dinner underwrite the development of the Garden’s orchid research collection, which helps maintain the highest horticultural standards of orchid conservation. In spite of strict international regulations, many wild orchids today are under severe threat of extinction from overcollection and destruction of their native habitats. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an agreement between governments to ensure that international trade of wild plant and animal specimens (and products made from them) does not threaten their survival.
In accordance with this agreement, all such shipments must be properly documented. In the case of live plants, it must be shown that the plants have been bred in cultivation and not taken directly from the wild, thus potentially harming rare species. Improperly documented shipments are seized at international borders and sent to Plant Rescue Centers, which have proper facilities to care for them. As a designated Center since 1990, The New York Botanical Garden has received thousands of plants through this program.