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New Research Framework Led by Female Scientist

A new research framework designed to best respond to ecological threats across shared landscapes has been officially announced and published. The research is led by a Honduran female scientist and founded on extensive local and traditional knowledge.

Ana Quiñónez Camarillo, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental conservation at University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and Honduran native; Along with co-author, UMass Amherst Professor of Environmental Conservation, Timothy Randhir, developed this framework to address watershed issues in Lake Yojoa, Honduras; One that is widely applicable to a broad range of ecological threats worldwide.

UMass Amherst published the story, in which Quiñónez Camarillo expresses the critical importance of including local people when designing successful, environmental conservation strategies:

“One of the biggest issues facing international sustainability efforts is that smaller, less economically developed countries often don’t have the resources to conduct nuanced, in-depth surveys of local people and the local environment in the threatened area … And so environmental organizations often wind up pushing a top-down conservation strategy, which may or may not be acceptable to the local people. If the strategy isn’t acceptable, then it may fail, costing time, money, goodwill and further endangering ecological and social health.”

Quiñónez Camarillo and Randhir conducted 224 surveys across 12 communities within the Lake Yojoa watershed and engaged with 24 other stakeholders ranging from private companies to National parks. According to Quiñónez Camarillo, their new framework can be useful in analyzing whether or not big solutions actually affect and reflect the things that people really care about at the grassroots level.

For more Yoro Biological Corridor research, see our Resources page.

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New YBC Research Publication

A new scientific study that helps in validating the Yoro Model is out now!

Published in August of this year in the Spanish academic journal “Sociedad de Ornitología Neotropical”, this study validates earlier findings that IOC™ farms provide much-needed habitat for the warblers not found in other coffee farming scenarios (results that were originally demonstrated in Costa Rica and confirmed by Murillo’s study in Honduras).

The study is titled “Afforestation efforts for golden-winged warblers and other forest-associated species in Honduras” and was a joint effort by authors: David Murillo, Darío Alvarado, Fabiola Rodríguez-Vásquez, Caz Taylor, and David I. King.

For more Yoro Biological Corridor (YBC) research, see our Resources page.

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Important 2023 Coffee Barometer Report Released

An important global coffee report that monitors sustainability claims was released yesterday, and paints the picture that the industry has reached a crisis point in meeting its own climate targets.

“… the coffee sector finds itself immersed in a state of crisis.” … “Amidst the grand claims of sustainability and rosy promises of a prosperous future in coffee agriculture, the harsh reality faced by coffee producers is marked by price volatility and rising production costs … Coupled with rampant inflation and the profound consequences of a rapidly changing climate in the most vulnerable origins.” (2023 Coffee Barometer)

The Coffee Barometer, published at and supported by Conservation International, Solidaridad, Ethos Agriculture and Belgiun and German development agencies, reports on the coffee industry’s attitude and progress towards climate readiness and sustainable supply chains; and is widely recognized as the most accurate “mainstream” depiction of where the coffee industry sits with regards to sustainability.

The last Coffee Barometer report, published in 2020, summed up the “all talk but no action” existing claims and efforts of the biggest coffee corporations, (like Olam, Nestle and Starbucks) as “disappointing”.

This new 2023 report identifies that coffee has now clearly reached a crisis point.

What it Summarizes

  • Coffee growing habitat is at severe risk … Projecting a loss of 45.2% of global Arabica production by 2050 (due to loss of suitable habitat). Poses an even greater threat to existing high elevation forests.
  • The exploitive and extractive nature of coffee will keep millions of growers below the poverty line.
  • The new EU Deforestation Law (10 years in the making) is the first big government regulation requiring commodities like coffee and cocao to prove their supply chains did not contribute to deforestation in order to be approved entry. However, so far the largest coffee companies are challenging the law rather than incorporating the needed changes to be compliant, claiming that the burden will ultimately hurt the farmers.
  • Key finding about coffee’s carbon footprint state an increasing loss of more than 130,000 hectares of forest each year, equaling approximately 45 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • The coffee industry is opaque and doesn’t disclose the basic information needed for global stakeholders to properly assess supply chains.
  • Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) like Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC), that include associations and recognized NGOs, are allowing companies to benefit from media attention that make it seem like they are acting on climate when they aren’t having any impact (essentially green-washing). “[Multi-stakeholder Initiatives] allows them to portray themselves as “taking action” while conveniently sidestepping the more complex and contentious issues.” (2023 Coffee Barometer)

Conclusion & Next Steps

The report paints a scary picture for high elevation tropical forests, coffee farmers, and people all over the world affected by climate change. So, everyone.

But there is hope in action …

From the report: “Clearly, agroforestry should not be seen as a substitute for natural forests, but rather as a means to restore degraded landscapes. Agroforestry has the potential to contribute to global restoration efforts and store vast amounts of carbon, potentially amounting to millions of metric tons.”

The foundation of YBC’s Yoro Model starts with the local community (i.e. farmers) and introduces a new way of growing, processing and trading (i.e. transparent transactions throughout the supply chain). Its multi-disciplinary approach address all of the issues outlined in the report and is here for coffee companies to embrace.

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600 Coffee Farmers Surveyed for Opinion

Coffee farmers in the Yoro region of Honduras are showing an interest in adopting reforestation on their farms.

This is indicated by the results of a recent survey of 600 coffee farmers in the region, implemented by Mesoamerican Development Institute (MDI) and overseen by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

The survey was aimed at gauging farmers’ interest in adopting Integrated Open Canopy™ (IOC) coffee farming (in which they restore forest areas on their coffee farms).

The results indicate a very strong desire on the part of coffee farmers to participate in IOC™:

85.7% of farmers say they are interested in adopting IOC™ production!And of that 85.7% (54.7% indicated “definitely”; and 32%, “probably”)

The language of the survey, which deals with complex subject matter, was developed through focus groups of local farmers; both those practicing IOC™ and others who had no knowledge of IOC™; And in terms of the overall survey, 96.5% said they were confident in their choices, and 92.6% said the scenarios presented were realistic.

These are validating results illustrating that the concept of being financially rewarded for restoring forest on coffee farms is both relevant and desired by many local community members. These results also mean it’s expected that more farms will be added to the 20 existing IOC™ pilot farms. 🙌

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Second Round of Soil Samples

More soil collection is underway on IOC farms in the Yoro region of Honduras!

Carried out by youth conservationists, this fieldwork is critical to accurately quantifying the carbon-sequestering capabilities of the soil on Yoro Model lands.

Yoro Biological Corridor researchers are about two-thirds of the way done taking samples now, and expect have the soil data by this fall. (The first samples were taken back in October-November of 2022).

So many samples, so little time 😉
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Not Your Typical Coffee Defect Analysis

As this year’s coffee harvest gets plucked from the trees, Integrated Open Canopy™ test farms are busily being studied!

A defect analysis is underway here, providing quantitative data of natural pest control (i.e. ecosystem services).

This puts a scientifically proven price on how well birds combat the coffee borer beetle, so that farmers can get adequately paid for having organic pest control on their farms.

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First Soil Samples for Carbon Analysis Collected

There’s more than just sustainable coffee in the Yoro Biological Corridor … These are the very first soil samples collected from Integrated Open Canopy™ (IOC) coffee farms!

These samples are arriving at a local lab, so that scientists can accurately quantify the carbon-sequestering capabilities of IOC coffee farms, (which are half coffee farm, half restored forest).

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New YBC Scientist: Ana Quiñonez

Meet Ana Quiñonez and Fabiola Rodríguez! These two Honduran researchers are currently working on their doctoral degrees, studying the impacts of Integrated Open Canopy™ coffee farming on cloud forest conservation.

Ana is new to the Yoro Biological Corridor (YBC) team this year and Fabiola has been conducting studies with YBC for a multiple years. Learn more about IOC™ coffee farming by listening to Fabiola’s podcast.

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National Science Foundation Partners with YBC Researchers

Yoro Biological Corridor (YBC) recently received National Science Foundation (NSF) recognition & support!

As part of their ‘Growing ‘Convergence Research Project’, NSF is funding a coalition that will model the impact of Cafe Solar® clean technology & forest-restoring coffee cultivation, on watersheds, forest, and people. The $3.4 million project includes Tulane University; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of North Carolina; and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.