Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shade Grown Coffee and Coral Reefs

Well, A few years ago I gave a presentation on this topic. Today, a co-worker asked me about it. Not the presentation, but about the possible effects of runoff from coffee plantations in Hawaii and Puerto Rico on coral reefs.

I started to talk about all the issues related to clearing tropical forest and/or the shading canopy of coffee plantations. You know, run off, soil loss, chemical pollutants etc., using the example of both Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These are the only two places within the USA where coffee is produced! Anyway, a 30 minutes conversation could be summarized as follow:

You cut the tropical forest canopy in the hills, a lot of rain falls in a small tropical island (e.g., Puerto Rico, Hawaii), water start rushing down hill. A few hours later all that water carrying sediments and pollutants reaches the ocean and cover all the coral reefs and sea grass beds....

This is a newly created "sun" coffee plantation in Yauco, Puerto Rico. See the steep hill? Add these steep hill to over 90 inches of rain/year and you know what will happen to all that soil and sediment...

By the way, this particular area is less than 15 miles from one of the most productive coral reefs in Puerto Rico (La Parguera and the Guanica Forest area).

This is the actual run off from the heart of the coffee region of Puerto Rico at the mouth of the Rio Culebrinas (or "Culebrinas" River).

Do you see the connection?



No comments: