Coffee sustainability in Costa Rica

Dr. John Williams setting a butterfly trap in Costa Rica, 2011

Dr. John Williams sets a fruit trap to measure butterfly species diversity along a transect in a Costa Rican coffee plantation.

Pacific Agroecology LLC contracted with the INCAE Business School and the global coffee distributor ECOM to conduct an assessment of management practices in coffee plantations (“fincas”) on biodiversity. The study, which compared fincas enrolled in a sustainability certification program with fincas not enrolled, examined the effects of riparian buffers, tree cover, and shade tree diversity on the abundance and species richness of butterflies and birds. The results indicated that, while management practices did not seem to have an impact on the numbers of animals encountered, the number of bird species recorded was higher in certified fincas. Butterfly richness was found to be positively correlated with habitat heterogeneity, whether or not the fincas were certified. The study has helped demonstrate how sustainability practices for premium coffee beans can have positive ecological benefits that in turn can be marketed to environmentally conscious consumers.

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