How is Coffee Causing Deforestation?

Coffee is the second most popular drink after water in the world, and its global market value is estimated to be over USD 100 billion. However, the growing demand for this commodity from wealthier countries is causing deforestation and contributing to the speedup of climate change.

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Coffee is grown in tropical countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Ethiopia, with vulnerable and valuable rainforests. Those forests are vital for the protection of species and to slow down global warming. Still, they are in constant danger due to industrialisation and development. With the skyrocketing demands of coffee, producers are struggling to increase yields on existing farmland.

Hence, coffee producers are cutting down forests in South America, Central Africa, and parts of Asia to grow commodity products. The Brazilian Mata Atlântica rainforest has been exploited for coffee since the 1950s. The Minas Gerais, which is the biggest coffee producer in Brazil, owns 50% of the country’s share of coffee production and contributes to the income and employment in the region. With this in mind, they continue to capitalise on the land of tropical rainforest, destroying most bio-diversity.

While a large percentage of tropical forests are being converted into agricultural land, climate change is accelerating. Deforestation causes the unleashing of even more emissions that were trapped in the rainforest. Furthermore, it causes habitat destruction, making many species endangered or extinct. There are many organisations and people from rich nations campaigning for the protection of forests. Nonetheless, the only way for them to make a change is to adjust their lifestyle and their use of commodities such as coffee, beef production, soybeans, among many others that contribute to the acceleration of deforestation.

There are many solutions to this problem, and it starts from supplier chains and corporate power. There also should be better labels about the origin of the consumer products. Stricter environmental laws would help as well. Another long term solution may be wealthier countries paying poorer ones to keep their forests intact. Consumers could also switch to shade-grown coffee, which is coffee plants grown under a canopy of trees.

 

Sources:
Achinelli, M., 2002. Poverty, coffee cultivation and deforestation in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest: Achieving a sustainable livelihood through education and public participation.
Wilmot, G., 2018. COFFEE & DEFORESTATION – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT COFFEE…

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