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Conserv Biol. 2013 Oct;27(5):1031-40. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12079. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

Effects of coffee management on deforestation rates and forest integrity.

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Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.


Knowledge about how forest margins are utilized can be crucial for a general understanding of changes in forest cover, forest structure, and biodiversity across landscapes. We studied forest-agriculture transitions in southwestern Ethiopia and hypothesized that the presence of coffee (Coffea arabica)decreases deforestation rates because of coffee's importance to local economies and its widespread occurrence in forests and forest margins. Using satellite images and elevation data, we compared changes in forest cover over 37 years (1973-2010) across elevations in 2 forest-agriculture mosaic landscapes (1100 km(2) around Bonga and 3000 km(2) in Goma-Gera). In the field in the Bonga area, we determined coffee cover and forest structure in 40 forest margins that differed in time since deforestation. Both the absolute and relative deforestation rates were lower at coffee-growing elevations compared with at higher elevations (-10/20% vs. -40/50% comparing relative rates at 1800 m asl and 2300-2500 m asl, respectively). Within the coffee-growing elevation, the proportion of sites with high coffee cover (>20%) was significantly higher in stable margins (42% of sites that had been in the same location for the entire period) than in recently changed margins (0% of sites where expansion of annual crops had changed the margin). Disturbance level and forest structure did not differ between sites with 30% or 3% coffee. However, a growing body of literature on gradients of coffee management in Ethiopia reports coffee's negative effects on abundances of forest-specialist species. Even if the presence of coffee slows down the conversion of forest to annual-crop agriculture, there is a risk that an intensification of coffee management will still threaten forest biodiversity, including the genetic diversity of wild coffee. Conservation policy for Ethiopian forests thus needs to develop strategies that acknowledge that forests without coffee production may have higher deforestation risks than forests with coffee production and that forests with coffee production often have lower biodiversity value.


Ethiopia; Etiopía; Landsat; bosque tropical; certificación; certification; degradación; degradation; edge effects; efecto de borde; fragmentación; fragmentation; homogenización; homogenization; percepción remota; remote sensing; tropical forest

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