Oromia: A new study found high biodiversity on Oromo traditional shade coffee farms with highest relative bird biodiversity February 6, 2015Posted by OromianEconomist in Oromia Coffee.
Tags: Africa, African culture, African Studies, Biodiversity, Oromia is the region where coffee first originated, Oromia's traditional Coffee farm, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo culture, Oromo people
According to the recent study reported in National Geographic New Science Brief, the mainly Oromia’s (Ethiopian) traditional shade coffee farms are the world’s highest relative bird friendly. It is also known that geographically and categorically Oromia is the birth place of coffee and traditional shade coffee farms have been the dominate form of coffee production practice in the state.
“Oromia is the region where coffee first originated and it is by the Oromo people that the usage of coffee as a food started in the beginning of the 5th century. Oromia is approximately located between 3 degree and 15 degree North latitude and 33 degree and 40 degree longitude. The region is known for its unique native vegetation as well as for being the center of diversity for many different species of plant. The region is the birth place of coffee. The Oromo’s use coffee as food, drink, trade, spiritual nourishment and as a tool for peace-keeping.” http://www.oromiacoffeeunion.org/
The details of study reports from National Geographic as follows:
A new study found high biodiversity on traditional coffee farms.
The research suggests that traditional cultivation practices there support local forest bird biodiversity better than any other coffee farms in the world.
In Ethiopia, coffee is traditionally grown on plantations shaded by native trees. These farms boasted more than 2.5 times as many bird species as adjacent mountain forest, according to a study slated for publication February 11 in the journal Biological Conservation.
“That was a surprise,” says study co-author Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a biologist at the University of Utah and a National Geographic Society grant recipient. Further, “all 19 understory bird species we sampled in the forest were present in the coffee farms too, and that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.”
Other studies have shown that shade coffee farms provide better bird habitat than full-sun plantations, but the effect may be more prominent in Ethiopia because farmers there tend to use native trees instead of the exotic species popular elsewhere.PHOTOGRAPH BY AMI VITALE, PANOS
Why It Matters
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, says Sekercioglu.
The Big Picture
Scientists found all but one of nine species of migratory birds on the coffee farms, but not in adjacent forest. Sekercioglu suspects that the open structure of the farms was more inviting to the birds than the denser natural forest because it more closely resembles the habitat they are used to in the north.
Still, Sekercioglu cautions that “coffee farms cannot simply replace forest for habitat.” Although all forest understory bird species were also represented on the farms, their number of individuals was about 80 percent lower. (See how coffee changed America.)
PHOTOGRAPH BY CAGAN SEKERCIOGLU, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
The team would like to measure how birds in the canopy above the coffee farms are faring, since they only measured birds caught in the understory, or the first ten feet above the ground. The scientists also want to study long-term the breeding success and population changes of birds in forest versus shade coffee.
Sekercioglu also suggests that the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centeror the Rainforest Alliance, which certify bird-friendly coffee from other countries, should consider extending their programs to Ethiopia. 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.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested the Ethiopian farms had the highest bird biodiversity anywhere, but it has been updated to clarify that the farms have the highest relative bird biodiversity.