We have long seen native birds praised through different aspects of the coffee community, most commonly seen boasting vibrant coloured prints on hessian sacks. Roasters, café owners and creators actively seek these out as a keep sake of their surroundings, but how do birds and coffee actually collide? And what can we do to ensure that coffee farming can help support a healthy ecosystem for our avian friends?
The importance of fauna in the coffee ecosystem has long been overlooked and in many ways, still is. With habitat destruction being one of the highest contributing factors towards many animals that have become endangered, intervention was needed to help protect these species. The last decade has seen the awareness of our impact on the environment come to the forefront of many businesses, and with this we have seen an influx of certifications developed. These certifications help to acknowledge those who go the extra mile, assisting with lasting long term positive environmental impacts.
With certifications such as the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade becoming a key signal for the environment coffee is grown, some producers are shifting towards a preservation mindset to meet these demands. Continuing our support of sustainable and ecological initiatives, in the spotlight today is the Bird Friendly Certificate.
With coffee growing regions overlapping important habitats for a large variety of wildlife, the deforestation of trees by coffee farms to produce coffee, results in the destruction of native wildlife habitats. A direct correlation between the destruction of these forests and the surviving population of a variety of bird species was discovered by the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, unearthing the damage these agricultural practices were causing to native wildlife. The attempt to combat this is the bird-friendly certification, which rewards producers for growing coffee without damaging the local ecosystems home to indigenous wildlife.
Bird-friendly identifies a coffee that is shade grown and 100% organic, and "supports fair and stable prices for coffee producers, healthy environments for communities, greater biodiversity and protection for bird habitats, and equal access to markets for Bird Friendly coffee producers" (Smithsonian Global). This certificate upholds the strictest criteria when it comes to biodiversity conservation relating to coffee farms and production, and is a key indicator for which coffees have been produced while being non-destructive to bird habitats.
Smithsonian scientists developed this important certification in the late 1990s, and the certificate has recently expanded its reach into the world of cocoa. With the strict criteria needed to hold this certification, it not only provides farmers with significant benefits including pricing, but is a fundamental factor in fighting climate change.
Being such an important cause for so many reasons, we hope to see a continued focus on the topic across not only the coffee and cocoa industries, but also additional farming industries.