Shade-grown coffee: a triple win for birds, forests and communities

Shade-grown coffee: a triple win for birds, forests and communities

By Ashmeeta Subra  May 22nd, 2024

A Venezuelan project encouraging rural communities to produce shade-grown coffee has yielded significant benefits such as forest preservation, enhanced biodiversity and more.


The Aves y Cafe program in Venezuela engages rural communities to cultivate shade-grown coffee under native trees. Founded by Luis Arrieta, an agronomist with a passion for both coffee and wildlife, the program aims to revive the tradition of shade-grown coffee cultivation. By growing coffee under native trees, farmers not only preserve forests but also protect critical bird habitats.  

Since its inception, the program has safeguarded 415 hectares of montane forest, crucial for threatened bird species. The protected forests also serve as significant carbon stores, contributing to climate change mitigation.   

The initiative's success lies in its community-centred approach. Arrieta, drawing from his family's generations-old coffee-growing legacy, combined his love for animals with his expertise in agronomy to create a program that benefits both people and nature.    

“We’ve got an opportunity to expand our efforts, and our hope is to encourage people to replicate this model of community agroforestry across Venezuela,” Arrieta told Mongabay.    

The program also gained momentum through partnerships with organisations like the Red Siskin Initiative and the Smithsonian's Bird Friendly coffee certification program. This convinced sceptical locals of the benefits of shade-grown coffee, with 25 families in the towns of Piedra, Cachimbo and La Florida joining efforts to revive abandoned or semi-neglected coffee plantations. 

Going beyond coffee, farmers also are adopting agroforestry techniques for other crops like bananas, avocados, and native fruits, diversifying their income sources and boosting the local economy.  

The program plans to expand its efforts by integrating shade-cultivated cacao and introducing a farmer mentorship program. By sharing knowledge and experiences, Arrieta hopes to inspire more communities to adopt sustainable agroforestry practices across Venezuela. 

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Positive Actions

Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

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