Labeled "bird-friendly" but may accelerate tropical forest clearing
Blue-Crowned Motmot - one of the many bird species that depend on tropical forests in coffee farming regions
-- Photo: Thomas Dietsch
A coffee landscape in the Soconusco Region of Chiapas, Mexico. There is a distinct difference between the two coffee farms depicted. On the right slope of the photo is Finca Irlanda, a coffee farm that has been recently certified as "Bird-Friendly®" coffee, and also meets criteria for Eco-OK Certification. The farm on the left, Finca Hamburgo, clearly looks different (i.e. you can see rows of coffee under the sparse shade, in contrast to the dense shade in Finca Irlanda). This second farm DOES NOT meet the criteria of "Bird-Friendly®" coffee nor for Eco-OK Certification and thus shows our point that not all farms qualitatively classified as "shade-grown" will meet rigid certification guidelines.
--Photo: Shinsuke Uno
While shade coffee is promoted as protecting tropical forests and birds, conservationists are split on whether it actually works. The December issue of Conservation Biology has the latest on the debate: one side says shade coffee can give farmers a reason to preserve tropical biodiversity while the other side fears it can actually encourage farmers to clear more forest.
Shade coffee is a traditional farming method of growing coffee bushes under a canopy of diverse trees, which helps protect the many bird species that depend on them.
Stacy Philpott | Society for Conservation Biology
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