Shady coffee plantations in Ethiopia, where coffee has been grown for at least a thousand years, hold relatively more forest bird species than any other coffee farms in the world, new research shows.
The research suggests that traditional cultivation practices there support local forest bird biodiversity better than any other coffee farms in the world.
In Ethiopia, coffee is traditionally grown on plantations shaded by native trees. These farms boasted more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent mountain forest, according to a study slated for publication February 11 in the journal Biological Conservation.
“That was a surprise,” says Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a biologist at the University of Utah and a National Geographic Society grant recipient who worked on the study with his PhD student Evan Buechley. Further, “all 19 understory bird species we sampled in the forest were present in the coffee farms too, and that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.”
Other studies have shown that shade coffee farms provide better bird habitat than full-sun plantations, but the effect may be more prominent in Ethiopia because farmers there tend to use native trees instead of the exotic species popular elsewhere.
Why It Matters
The new study may be the first of bird biodiversity on Ethiopian coffee farms, because the country is relatively remote and poor. Ethiopian coffee farmers face pressure—as in many countries—to convert more coffee production to full-sun plantations.
Growing coffee in the sun can reduce the risk of fungal disease, cuts labor, and can yield more coffee beans, but at the costs of lower-quality coffee that fetches less per pound and degraded habitat for wildlife, says Sekercioglu.source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150204-ethiopia-shade-coffee-bird-friendly-environment-ngfood-science/