An article from National Geographic discusses coffee production in Ethiopia. A recent research study suggests that traditional cultivation practices – on plantations shaded by native tree species – support forest bird biodiversity “better than any other coffee farms in the world.” According to a study that will be published next week in the journal Biological Conservation, traditional farms boast more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent forest areas.

Brian Clark Howard (@socialpyramid) reports:

“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…”

One of the researchers notes that “coffee farms cannot simply replace forest for habitat.” He also suggests that organizations that certify bird-friendly coffee from other countries should consider expanding certification efforts to Ethiopian farmers.

“Certification allows farmers to recoup a price premium, which can help deter the impulse to convert farms to full sun or otherwise develop their land.”