Rainforest Alliance promotes standards for sustainable production of a variety of agriculture crops through standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). In order for a farm to be Rainforest Alliance certified, they must comply with an overarching set of standards, with some crops requiring additional or specific standards. Evaluation of compliance audits are done by Sustainable Farm Certification, International.
In July 2010, the SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard was revised and updated from the previous version dated April 2009. Several criteria were added. The ones dealing with the environment are:
- Farms must know the sources of their energy, how much they use, and have an energy efficiency plan.
- Farms must implement a plan to maintain or restore connectivity of natural ecosystems within their boundaries.
- Farms must implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon dioxide sequestration.
None of these are critical (required), but are rather novel and worthwhile additions to coffee certification schemes in particular.
The following criteria having to do with the environment were modified:
- The criteria regarding farms not destroying any natural ecosystem, a critical criterion, is now more detailed and specific. It now also says that any natural ecosystems purposefully destroyed since late 1999 need to undergo analysis and mitigation.
- The criteria regarding the prohibition on harvesting of endangered or threatened plants now includes the language “or other taking” of these plants. A statement banning certification of farms that have deforested in the two years prior to the start of the certification process has been deleted.
It appears that farms that underwent deforestation within two years of the start of the certification process can now be certified, but have to implement some sort of mitigation process. I’m not sure if this is a net gain or not.
You can read through these now-current standards in this PDF document.
As far as I know, there have been no revisions to the coffee standard; the last version I have is November 2005.