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Shade coffee and amphibian conservation, a sustainable way forward? Understanding the perceptions and management strategies of coffee growers in Colombia

Nicolette S. Roach, Texas A&M University; Re:Wild
Daniela Acosta, Independent Scholar
Thomas E. Lacher, Jr., Texas A&M University; Re:Wild


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Understanding the perceptions and management practices of local land users is critical to improve conservation programs and sustainable outcomes. Colombia, one of the most megadiverse countries in the world, is also the third largest global producer of coffee. Cafeteros (rural coffee farmers) produce the majority of Colombian coffee. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM), Colombia, is an isolated mountain on the Caribbean coast and one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Coffee grows in agroforestry matrices alongside high levels of endemic amphibians. Our goal was to understand (1) the perceptions of cafeteros about biodiversity, and (2) how coffee management practices may impact amphibian conservation in the region. We selected coffee communities that were close to concurrent amphibian research sites, to conduct focus groups. Themes, focused on both conservation and development, emerged from the five focus groups, specifically conservation program design and livelihood constraints. These were broken down into generic categories and subcategories ranging from cafetero knowledge of biodiversity and climate change to socioeconomic constraints. We found that although cafeteros have an inherent appreciation for the landscape and conservation, they require economic support to achieve sustainability goals. We recommend three steps to improve sustainability and equitable practices in the SNSM: (1) alleviate the economic strain on local coffee growers through social and economic government programs; (2) improve distribution of updated technology and coffee processing methods and to farmers; and (3) connect local farmers directly with buyers.

Key words

biodiversity; cafetero; climate change; conservation; shade coffee; sustainability

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087