No 30

Conservation of Biodiversity, a Significant Commitment for 100% Colombian Coffee

August, 2013

WHAT'S BEHIND

Conservation of Biodiversity, a Significant Commitment for 100% Colombian Coffee

Besides studies and research on coffee, Cenicafé has also led initiatives to contribute to the understanding and conservation of the wide biodiversity in the coffee zones

In addition to producing the highest-quality beans, the Colombian coffee zone is the epicenter for generating significant contributions to the study and preservation of the flora and fauna of the country. In this way it is intended to show the world the richness of the biodiversity and help raise awareness about the importance of its conservation.

The National Center for Coffee Research (Cenicafé) of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, besides studies and research on coffee and pests that plague it, has led initiatives to contribute to the understanding and conservation of the wide biodiversity in the coffee zones. Cenicafé is recognized as the leading coffee research center in Colombia and is one of the most important in the world.

It is difficult not to marvel at the collection of almost 30,000 insect specimens of the coffee zone housed at the entomological museum of Cenicafé. This large and well-preserved collection is constantly accessed not only by farmers but also by students of various grades. It is a way of showing them the richness of the biodiversity and the importance of its conservation.

In its research on coffee Cenicafé began to identify and classify pest species afflicting the crops to combat them in the best way, but given the wealth of biodiversity that characterizes the coffee zones of Colombia, it also took on the task of exploring other species of insects, birds and mammals to analyze their interaction with the environment and their potential impact on the coffee crops.

Húver Posada, a researcher at Cenicafé, acknowledges that raising awareness of this rich biodiversity aids Colombia and the world in appreciating and preserving it.

While the human eye may find some species more striking than others, as the Hercules beetles or butterflies of amazing colors, Posada explained that in terms of balance all are important, because they all need to work in harmony and balance. An example is the dragonflies, which, by the way they reproduce, have become a natural indicator of whether water pollution is present or not in a particular area.

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Hercules beetles


Although research on coffee is still the main objective of Cenicafé, these complementary investigations into biodiversity are increasingly relevant and in line with the policies of environmental sustainability for Colombian coffee. “It has introduced the issue of biodiversity and conservation in the agenda of the Colombian coffee guild,” notes Jorge Eduardo Botero, a researcher of natural resources and conservation for Cenicafé.

Initiatives on birds and mammals

Studies and initiatives to identify, classify and preserve the rich biodiversity in the coffee areas are not limited to insects, but they also include birds (some endangered migratory species) and mammals.

With the backing of such important institutions as the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy, Cenicafé has led programs for the study and conservation of birds with a very participatory approach for the farmers, taking into account the interests of the communities.

This strategy led to support environmental education programs, the development of conservation corridors and the formation of birdwatchers groups.

In relation to mammals, Cenicafé has studied bats and monkeys, among others. “Bats are a very diverse group. Only in the Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape region we have identified more than 40 species (of the 180 that exist in Colombia),” Botero notes.

Cenicafé also found that the shade coffee plantations located next to forests play an important role in conservation and serve as buffer zones.

The printing and distribution of thousands of newsletters, bio-letters and posters, and conducting workshops, help to know and preserve this biodiversity. Doing research that has a practical effect and can be transmitted to the farmer is one of the main challenges of Cenicafé.

Currently Cenicafé and the Federation, supported by the Extension Service, work hand in hand with the German agency KFW on an ambitious project to build biodiversity corridors, with a strong emphasis on conservation.

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