Posts Tagged ‘biodiversity hotspots’

The Purchasing Power of Coffee Hounds

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Java lovers take note: For better or worse, our passion for espresso, latte, or plain old cups of morning joe has had a dramatic effect on landscapes around the world — today, coffee is grown in at least 16 of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots — not to mention the people whose livelihoods depend on the stuff. In an effort to boost production, growers have increased their use of pesticides and are relying less on shade trees, which offer habitat for birds and other environmental benefits. Given increasing evidence of the health benefits of coffee consumption, this trend is likely to intensify, despite the fact that these practices make the crop more vulnerable to erratic weather.

No, this isn’t a plea for coffee hounds to switch to tea or hot chocolate (the same trends have been detected among producers of these crops). But it is a reminder that we can help protect the land and its people in coffee-growing regions by buying shade-grown products. According to the latest evidence, in an article published in the October issue of BioScience, sustainable farming that employs shade trees may improve coffee crops’ resistance to the temperature and precipitation extremes that climate change is expected to trigger. You can find a pdf to the full article here