Why a Landscape Approach?

Commodity-based trading companies, manufacturing companies, regional and national governments, farmers and NGOs all need reliable data concerning the numerous components that encompass a key sourcing landscape.

Conservation International’s Carbon Fund developed the Landscape Accounting Framework (LAF), a tool for measuring and monitoring the status and change in key indicators that collectively characterize landscape sustainability. Such aspects include natural capital (land, forests and water), production systems, local governance and human wellbeing. This holistic approach will help assess the collective impact of coffee communities being undertaken by the members of Coalition for Coffee Communities (CCC) in northern Nicaragua — going beyond individual sustainability initiatives, which are normally led by a company’s supply chain.

The CCC is a group of industry-leading roasting companies (S&D Coffee & Tea, Starbucks, Keurig Green Mountain, Farmer Brothers and Counter Culture Coffee) that together with the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) and Conservation International are working to accelerate the pace of social, economic and environmental transformation in the coffee sector by creating more pertinent and impactful strategies to address smallholder livelihood challenges.

The current work being done by the CCC includes a preliminary assessment of available data and a preliminary spatial analysis on location of coffee farms within its members’ supply chains in Jinotega. CI’s team has mapped these locations in relation to priority areas for conservation (e.g. protected areas, Key Biodiversity Areas) and relevant boundaries (e.g. administrative units, forest cover, suitable area for coffee) to inform delineation of the landscape.

This one-of-a-kind industry collaboration will help the CCC members to:

  • Understand baseline conditions, inform strategic investments and track changes.
  • Align on desired outcomes for the landscape and select a common set of performance indicators to measure and monitor progress over time.
  • Define any common sustainability “hotspots” and any other relevant risks — not only related to coffee production but from other economic activities such as deforestation.
  • Consolidate the approach and disseminate the toolkit to promote its uptake and replication within the coffee and broader agricultural sectors.

Recently, the FOMIN and the IDB, under the SAFE Platform, have awarded a small intervention grant to the CCC to ensure that the landscape approach methodology is adaptable to coffee-producing landscapes in other regions of Latin America.

The landscape assessment framework offers an extraordinary opportunity for the industry to reinforce the productive capacity of key coffee growing regions to supply of high-quality coffee in the future.