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March 2012 C&CI • Climate Change • 37

scenario of avoided deforestation can be invoked, such as is used to justify pay- ments for conservation of carbon stocks in forests. This is currently being negoti- ated under the concept of REDD – Reduced Emissions from avoided Deforestation and forest Degradation – in international climate change negotiations.

What this means for shaded coffee is less clear, although most shaded coffee does qualify as "forest" under international conventions. Another metric that could be considered is to estimate how large the stocks of carbon in these systems are rel- ative to the emissions from coffee produc- tion and the carbon footprint of the whole value chain; if the stocks conserved repre- sent a 100 years or more of emissions, then it would seem that their conservation is making a real contribution to avoiding emissions over the coming critical 20-40 years during which GHG emissions need to be reduced.

So what can we conclude about the potential of carbon sequestered in shad- ed coffee systems to offset agronomic emissions and, potentially, to contribute to insetting emissions across the value chain?

If sufficient new free-growing trees are established in coffee plantations, or at least somewhere on the coffee farm, there is potential to offset the emissions from the agronomic management of the farm and even the whole value chain.

More detailed evaluation would need to be made of established shaded coffee plantations in order to estimate the levels of carbon sequestration that may offset emissions.

An alternative would be to build a justi- fication for recognising systems that con- serve considerable stocks of carbon, equivalent to at least 100 years of emis- sions from the supply chain. Maintaining systems such as these provides a signifi- cant opportunity so long as production is not intensified.

The latter scenario would include large areas of shaded coffee produced across Central America, Mexico, India and the Andean countries of Latin America. REDD could be used as a reference to justify that systems such as these con- serve carbon stocks in a similar way to natural forest.


Guatemalan farm is verified as ‘climate friendly’

El Platanillo coffee farm is the world’s first coffee farm to have complied with the SAN’s Climate Module

El Platanillo in San Marcos, Guatemala, has become the world’s first coffee farm to be veri- fied for compliance with the Climate Module of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), the international coalition of conservation organizations that manages Rainforest Alliance certification. The announcement was made by the Rainforest Alliance and the local SAN partner in Guatemala, the Inter-American Foundation for Tropical Research (FIIT, its Spanish acronym), in conjunction with coffee trading company EFICO Green Coffee and Cocoa and the National Coffee Alliance of Guatemala (ANACAFE, in Spanish).

Gianluca Gondolini, a Project Manager at the Rainforest Alliance, praised the dedication of El Platanillo’s owner and employees. "By fulfilling the SAN Climate Module, coffee plantations like El Platanillo can demonstrate their commitment to reducing emissions and improving the ability of their farms to adapt to climate change. We hope that farmers in Guatemala and elsewhere will follow in El Platanillo’s footsteps," he told C&CI.

Producers that commit to implementing the SAN Climate Module will be able to reduce their emis- sions and better adapt to changing climatic conditions. They will also be able to identify the risks that cli- mate change poses to their farms and communities, and estimate their level of vulnerability in the face of prolonged droughts and severe floods of the type that are becoming more frequent and intense. Verified producers will also increase the level of carbon stored on their farms by replacing decom- posed earth, reforesting certain areas on their farms and improving soil conservation, all of which helps reduce agriculture’s climate impacts and offers farmers a way to do their part to solve this challenging global problem.

Finca Platanillo has worked with EFICO and its clients for several years to adopt sustainable farming practices. The EFICO Foundation has supported the development of sustainable farming models, and Belgian coffee roasters Mokaturc and Colruyt have invested in certification, education and infrastructure development.

Finca Platanillo, the Rainforest Alliance, Anacafe and EFICO joined forces to develop and implement the SAN Climate Module. The Climate Module seeks to raise awareness among farmers about the impacts of climate change and promote the adoption of new practices that can mitigate these impacts and be integrated into a farm’s sustainable management plan. Nils Leporowski, Vice President of ANACAFE, said he hoped that more farmers would join the initia- tive. He said El Platanillo’s verification "signalled the beginning of a new era in evaluating and acknowl- edging the positive contributions that coffee producers make to the environment." Luis Gaitán, FIIT’s executive director, said verification of climate-friendly practices "builds on the joint goals of the SAN and the Rainforest Alliance, by encouraging people, producers, businesses and indus- tries to share responsibility for mitigating climate change."

The SAN Climate Module also provides benefits beyond the farm. "The concept of sustainability is a dynamic process that is continually evolving," said Katrien Delaet, EFICO’s Sustainability Project Manager. "The module is a practical and accessible tool for the entire coffee chain. It encourages farm- ers to create carbon stocks and reduce their emissions, and it persuades industry to commit to sustain- able supply chains." So far, three containers of the farm’s coffee have been sold to three European roasters committed to sustainable development: Peeze Coffee in the Netherlands, and Belgium’s Beyers Coffee and Rombouts.

El Platanillo is an 857 acre shade coffee plantation; 773 acres are dedicated to growing Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai beans and the rest are set aside as a protected area. The farm employs 35 men and 20 women year-round, and an average of 500 men and 200 women during harvest season.

Jeremy Haggar1 and Martin Noponen2 1 Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich,

Chatham Maritime, ME4 4TB, Kent, UK

2 School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, United Kingdom

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