Saving the Cerulean Warbler campaign

by on January 31, 2007

I last wrote about the Cerulean Warbler and shade coffee in August 2006, when the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced they would be working with coffee growers to  preserve critical wintering habitat around the new 500-acre Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve in the Rio Chucurí basin of Santander department, Colombia.

ABC, along with their Bird Conservation Alliance network, has now announced a full-fledged to raise US$100,000 to purchase habitat, train and equip forest guards and local ecotourism guides, and improve reserve infrastructure. The conservation plan is looking to purchase over 1,500 acres currently owned by nearly 20 different owners; some of the land is shade coffee farms. All properties in the reserve will be owned and managed by ProAves Colombia, the major conservation organization there.

You can donate directly, purchase the posh Cerulean Warbler postage stamps, or buy Cerulean Warbler Conservation Coffee, offered by Thanksgiving Coffee Company, roaster of the Songbird Coffee line discussed here.

Although some of the promotional material indicates that the coffee comes from shade plantations that are part of or are adjacent to the Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve in Santander, it is sourced from COOPERAN, a cooperative in southwestern Antioquia province (A on map, dot is co-op area). The aforementioned reserve is about 180 miles away within the Serrania de los Yariguies Important Bird Area (S on map, dot is Reserve).

Although it is a different location, this area is also important to Cerulean Warblers, as well as the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot (below), and other North American migrants. The very endangered Gorgeted Wood-Quail, another target species, is not found in the area where the coffee is sourced, but is found in the Reserve.

Santander has more extensive shade coffee farms versus Antioquia, which has only about 10% in typica varieties grown by traditional shade methods [1,2].  Thanksgiving Coffee sources its other Colombian coffees from the same co-op (although it is not labeled shade-grown), so they are apparently building on an existing relationship. A page (in Spanish) on the ProAves site notes that COOPERAN farmers are sharing their experience with farmers from the Reserve region.

There are 4,600 members in the COOPERAN cooperative.  One subgroup in the co-op mentioned as a Thanksgiving source was represented in the 2005 Cup of Excellence competition. I found information on one of the Los Sauces farm, El Clavel, which states the coffee there is 30% shade grown. ABC reassured that the Colombian conservation partner ProAves visits the farm(s) to make sure that the coffee is grown under shade.

Support of this campaign is highly worthwhile. Although the coffee does not come from the official Reserve, there is arguably more need for encouraging shade coffee farming in Antioquia, where less than 3% of the native forest remains. Just $1.50 of each bag of coffee goes to ABC, so don’t forget to donate directly to help purchase habitat.

Cerulean Warbler Technical Group el Grupo Cerleo page.

More on the partnership with COOPERAN (also in Spanish).

[1] Colorado, G., and T. Cuadros. 2006.  Geographic distribution and habitat use by Cerulean Warbler in natural vegetation and agro-ecosystems of northern Colombia. Final report to Nature Conservancy and USFWS. Medellin, Colombia.  56 pp. (pdf)

[2] Armenteras, D., A. Rincón, and N. Ortiz. 2005. Ecological Function Assessment in the Colombian Andean Coffee-growing Region. Sub-global Assessment Working Paper. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, United Nations.

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Revised on March 23, 2014

Posted in Birds and other biodiversity

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