A new award for coffee farmers is being initiated by Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Roast Magazine, and Birder’s Exchange (a program of the American Birding Association). The Coffee Conservation Award will be presented annually to recognize farms making a significant contribution to global biodiversity preservation. The award is a $1000 cash prize, to be used to further meaningful, science-based conservation practices on the winning farm.
This award is intended to not only to reward and encourage producers to grow coffee in a sustainable manner, but to help document and promote the benefits of these types of agroforestry systems to birds and wildlife.
Coffee certifications, for instance, often only measure the potential for biodiversity preservation by assessing the elements required for bird and wildlife habitat. The criteria for the Coffee Conservation Award will focus on actual wildlife use of the farms, and preservation of existing forests will be emphasized over tree-planting in production areas. Target wildlife species will be developed for various regions — the current application (PDF) lists target species for Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The bird list includes both Neotropical migrants (birds that breed in North America which winter in the tropics) like the brilliant and declining Painted Bunting (above), and rare or endemic tropical species like the Azure-rumped Tanager. The application also requests information on monkeys and frogs.
ominations each year will be restricted to a particular country, and the 2010 award will go to a producer in El Salvador. This is a great choice to start with, as coffee plantations provide so much of the of the remaining “forested” areas in the country. Judges will include the award partners and sponsors, as well as representatives of local conservation organizations, if possible. The 2010 award local partner is SalvaNatura, El Salvador’s excellent conservation organization. Their director of conservation science, Oliver Komar, is an old friend of mine and has written numerous papers on shade coffee and Neotropical bird conservation.
In addition to the cash prize, the Coffee Conservation Award includes promotion of the farm in trade publications (both coffee- and nature-related) and in the marketplace. The 2010 award is being sponsored by Cafe Imports, and the deadline for submissions will be December 31st, 2009. The winner will be announced in May 2010 in the May/June 2010 issue of Roast Magazine.
Painted Bunting photo by Francesco Veronesi under a Creative Commons license.
The bird pictured in the logo of the award is a White-eared Ground-Sparrow (Melozone leucotis), a restricted-range Central American species.