Coffee - not for birds

Published: Tuesday 15 June 1999

-- About 11 per cent of all known bird species are threatened with extinction, according to the World Resources Institute. Fragmentation or loss of habitat is mainly responsible for this decline, but harvesting for food and trade and competition from introduced species are also responsible. For example, conversion of traditional coffee plantations, which serve as habitats for migratory birds, to industrial coffee production methods may have devastating consequences for migratory bird populations. This is especially true of Central America and Columbia, where many migratory routes converge. Studies in Columbia and Mexico show coffee plantations developed along modern lines support 90 per cent fewer bird species than traditional coffee plantations.

More coffee, fewer birds?

In Latin America, coffee production has risen way above the world average, destroying the habitat of several bird species

Production (000 metric tonnes)

Per cent change

Region 1950 160 1970 1980 1990 1950-90
World 2,222 4,268 4,262 5,039 6,282 183
Central America 189 341 428 605 680 680
Caribbean 107 136 121 134 139 30
Northern Latin America 711 1,102 1,214 1,707 2,104 196
Source: Anon 1998, Global Environmental Trends, in World Resources 1998-99, World Resources Institute, UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank, New York, Oxford University Press, p166 and p197

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