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  • Writer's pictureJon Ferguson

Will Deforestation End by 2030?

The COP26 climate summit’s first major deal has solidified more than 100 world leaders to focus on committing to end or reverse deforestation by 2030. This global task is a challenging goal and will take an enormous focus on re-evaluating economic trade and sustainable land management strategies to achieve this global task. This article reflects on this challenge.

Deforestation and Coffee

The expansion of agricultural production into forested areas is one of many pressures adding to the rapid rates of global deforestation. Agriculture production is responsible for approximately 80% of all tropical deforestation alone. Coffee production is not immune to this expansion but does have a unique opportunity to incorporate forest management practices into supporting healthy agricultural production.

Although often contested, there is evidence coffee production can maintain reasonable yield production when applying technological developments in both genetics and new land-use management techniques. One of the leaders in researching these advancements is World Coffee Research, a 501(c)5 non-profit agricultural research organization registered in the state of California, where research on the economic viability of the application of coffee agroforestry management systems is in full swing.

Global talks in Europe this week remind us to act. In support of curbing global deforestation, organizations such as The World Economic Forum has launched an initiative to plant and conserve 1 trillion trees to help fight climate change and restore biodiversity. And as consumers, we are generally offered to participate through purchasing coffees that have labels showing us products that support sustainability.

Having a clear understanding of the various labels given on sustainable coffee products could lead to more impactful sustainable development programs. While a great deal of information on certification platforms is available online, other general labels or definitions about sustainable practices can be confusing, particularly those involving forest conservation, deforestation, or reforestation within the coffee lands.

“The ultimate objective is not an end to deforestation per se, but realization of sustainable land management as a component of sustainable development” – The Forest Dialogue

There is often confusion when consumers combine certification platforms with agricultural land-use management concepts, such as Deforestation-Free, Shade Grown, Carbon Negative/Neutral, or Climate Smart coffees. All of these describe strategies or forms of agricultural forest management systems, rather than a specific certification platform. Although many certifications adhere to these strategies to achieve sustainable land use management practices within coffee production, these concepts are usually combined with a list of other social and economic measures to achieve a more holistic approach to sustainable development.

Learning more about the complexities behind some of these forest management concepts can be challenging. A paper written in 2014 titled The Forests Dialogue introduces a conversation focusing on the term “deforestation-free” and why forests can be defined differently depending on the cultural context and geographic location. The paper provides insight on the complexities of defining systems that are often customized, and often reflect the unique needs of local growing conditions. Basically, not all forests are the same, nor is coffee.

For example, they write, “Varying terms used to communicate deforestation-free pledges make it difficult for stakeholders to know what exactly is being committed to. Participants expressed frustration that these terms sometimes overlap with one another and do not always communicate a clear meaning…Moreover, as some participants noted, the ultimate objective is not an end to deforestation per se, but realization of sustainable land management as a component of sustainable development…Some participants noted that one of the reasons we have not seen more deforestation-free commitments than we have is that governments are wary of making pledges that could be interpreted as hindering economic development, and that companies are concerned about sending mixed messages to their customers.” – The Forest Dialogue

The ElevaFinca sales team, the alliance of cooperatives, and the operations team in Peru and Colombia continue to promote certifications and sustainability measures that are in line with tackling this global initiative through promoting coffee agroforestry management strategies. Please feel free to contact our team to learn more about the variety of certifications and program activities that currently support sustainable land use management, and ways you can support these efforts.

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