Categories: Sciences

A coffee for the birds: from cultivation to conservation

A particular method of growing coffee in the shade can help maintain bird biodiversity – here’s how

Coffee cultivation can have a devastating effect on biodiversity, especially birds. Now a new integrated shade growing method promises to reduce this effect, with multiple benefits for humans and the environment.

Poultry fauna: loss and passion

Since 1970, the number of birds in North America it fell by about 2.9 billion individuals, a loss of over a quarter. Factors of this decline include habitat destruction and ecosystem degradation due to human actions on the landscape. At the same time, the enthusiasm for the birdwatching has grown, with over 45 million practitioners in the United States alone. Additionally, birding is estimated to involve a market of 41 billion dollars a year and about 660,000 jobs in the US alone. Birdwatchers, that is, those who love to observe birds in nature for passion, are often involved in campaigns for the conservation of fauna and the environment. In fact, they benefit from a healthy environment and a wide and varied fauna. That’s why i researchers they also rely on their community to create greater awareness of the importance of animal preservation.

Coffee: ecological plantations?

The coffee it is a plant that grows as a shrub or small tree. Its cultivation today is often intensive with large plantations a monoculture. The plants, to accelerate the ripening of seeds and fruits, are exposed to direct sunlight for as long as possible, in hot and humid environments. But still today the harvest is often done by hand with consequent inconvenience for the workers. Furthermore, monocultures cut down the biodiversity and require extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides. There cultivation in the shade it could reduce these problems with multiple benefits.

What is shade cultivation?

The cultivation in the shade is a cultivation technique that requires the plant to be cultivated with a limitation in the hours of direct sunlight it receives. Typically this is achieved with some coverage of other plants, usually trees, strategically planted. This system saves water and reduces the use of fertilizers. In fact, the organic material deposited by the trees naturally fertilizes the soil and keeps it moist, reducing the need for water. Also plants can attract birds and animals that, with proper control, can fight harmful insects while also reducing the use of pesticides. However, cultivation in the shade can lengthen maturation times making plantations less productive. However, researchers are now targeting this system for an integrated and intelligent use to maximize the benefits.

Bird-friendly coffee

Most plantations in South Central America and the Caribbean are done in full sun, and ideal bird habitats are being lost. Bird-friendly coffee is grown in the shade, under the canopy of trees mature. This type of coffee is considered biological. In research published in the journal People and Nature, researchers analyzed people’s reactions and knowledge about coffee grown in the shade. Only half of the interviewees admitted to considering the impact of coffee on fauna, but just over 39% admitted to know a certification in this sense and only 9% said they had purchased it. For the birdwatchers interviewed, the certified “bird friend” coffee also had an average of flavor best.

Multiple benefits

For researchers, knowledge and perception of this type of product should be implemented. The coffee grown in the shade it is greener and healthier for workers. In fact, on the same ground it allows to absorb more carbon dioxide and save money water and reduce the loss of biodiversity. A recent study has also shown how growing in the shade significantly reduces the presence of coffee borer, a very dangerous parasite. Also for the workers working in the shade is less stressful as it lowers the temperatures in which they carry out their activity. To encourage the use of this type of coffee, one should focus on more effective communication and marketing that encourages the qualities of this cultivation technique. Could, a economic levelIt is also useful to study shade cultivation methods with fruit trees in order to have a double revenue from the same amount of land.

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Published by
Maria Morganella

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