Shade Grown Coffee Benefits Foliage & Wildlife
Autumn is the time of year when all the birds that visit our backyards, all summer, head south, many migrating to the tropics where our coffee is grown.
However, this might not be the tropical paradise you have in mind. In fact, clearing land for coffee plantations is one of the biggest causes of shrinking migratory bird habitat.
Modern coffee plantations use varieties that are grown in full sun, necessitating the clearing of native forest.
However, traditional, shade-grown coffee farms harbor a diversity of many species.
But, it is the research that showed the importance of shade coffee plantations to birds that caught the attention of the public and really kick-started the shade-grown coffee movement.
In the last few decades, scientists have noticed long-term declines in many species of Neotropical migrants — about 200 species of birds that breed in North America, but winter south in the tropics.
Researchers examined the entire life cycle of these migratory species. Many of the birds we call our own in Ohio, spend as much as nine months of the year in migration or in the tropics.
Searching for answers to the long-term decline of
songbirds, researchers noted the
deforestation in the wintering areas of North American breeding birds.
Since much of the habitat in the New World tropics is being cleared for agriculture, the importance of shade and organic coffee plantations to wintering North American migrants, as well as resident tropical species, became evident.
The multi-layered vegetation of traditional or organic shade-grown coffee farms provides food and cover for birds, which is in some cases, very similar to native forest.
In areas where farming has replaced natural habitat with stark pastureland and row crops, organic and shade grown coffee farms are sometimes the only quality habitat available.
So, as you sip that coffee in the morning, listening to the birds around your home, you can be assured your consumption does not destroy valuable habitat birds need to survive.
By purchasing shade grown and organic coffee you can minimize destruction of the mid elevation tropical forests necessary to support that morning cup of coffee.