Biodiversity – A key element to sustainable coffee production

In July 2015, during a meeting with a local partner in Costa Rica, we were introduced to the concept of a biological corridor and how important it is to sustainable coffee production. My colleagues and I were captivated with the concept. At that meeting, we learned that ecosystems deliver specific services for a good living, health, as well as for social and cultural relations; and regardless of the size, any change they experience would affect us all.

Likewise, cultivated land with good sustainable agricultural practices provides areas that enable protection of the environment and wildlife migration between adjacent forested areas, protected or unprotected. Furthermore, shaded coffee plantations provide shelter to bird species found in natural rainforests located in the same geographic areas. These same trees within the coffee plantations also carry out specific jobs such as crop protection, firewood, lumber or fruits. In addition to the sustainable coffee production management services, trees provide conservation of biodiversity, education to current and future generations, regulation of the hydrological regime and carbon sequestration, among other benefits.

We all recognized that diversity delivers positive impact to the coffee growing areas. We also understand that consuming markets give more and more importance to the establishment of standards and practices that not only benefit the production methods and workers well-being, but also to wildlife. These practices are not directly connected to the four pillars of the S&D sustainability platform (building capacity and performance; farm productivity and profitability; improve soil health and improve water management), but because of all the benefits, the S&D team pursued an engagement with a Costa Rican leading partner and INBio in a project. The objective of the project is to generate and analyze information related to the principles of ecosystem conservation, wildlife protection and water resources conservation of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard.

Here are some deliverables from the project for April 2016:

  • Landscape analysis of coffee farms in relation to their location and Holdridge life zones, aquifers, biological corridors and protected areas, identifying natural ecosystems (both aquatic and terrestrial) existing in the farms
  • Identify endemic and endangered species, according to the IUCN list
  • Suggest implementing sustainable agricultural practices on farms for the conservation of the ecosystem
  • Suggest species of native and threatened trees and shrubs to consider planting on farms in order to improve the habitat of the species of interest

Similar to the forestation project and other S&D programs, this biodiversity initiative reflects our continuous efforts to improve our coffee supply chain from origin to the cup.

Learn more about S&D’s commitment to sustainable coffee and tea.