Starbucks makes special delivery to ensure the future of coffee

Coffee tree planting

Monitoring visits of the Starbucks “One Tree for Every Bag” program in Guatemala. The trip included visits to the tree nurseries to witness the marsellesa distribution process and to understand the tracking of plants leaving nurseries, as well as to several farms who received seedlings in 2016 or 2017. (© Starbucks)

Editor’s note: September 29 marks National Coffee Day in the U.S. Throughout September, Human Nature is publishing a series of reports on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. This post is the second in the series.

This story follows Conservation International’s (CI) director of sustainable coffee markets, Raina Lang, to Guatemala, with Mattea Fleischner, manager on Starbucks’ global social impact team. They were in the country to see how coffee trees are grown and delivered to farmers as part of the “One Tree for Every Bag” commitment, which has raised enough funds to plant more than 30 million new coffee treesThe commitment is part of a nearly 20-year partnership between CI and Starbucks. 

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In South Africa, the future of sustainable ranching looks bright

Herders, South Africa

A herder brings his cattle to auction in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Conservation South Africa is using auctions to improve grazing practices and support sustainable livelihoods. (© Trond Larsen)

Editor’s note: The article below is excerpted from a Special Report on South Africa exploring two South African landscapes where doing right by nature and doing right by people are the same. In this excerpt, originally published on August 17, 2017, we highlight the work of Tori Linder, a Conservation International (CI) staff member and fifth-generation rancher. Scroll to the end to watch a video about her efforts to restore South Africa’s rangelands. 

The Eastern Cape of South Africa is home to Africa’s most biodiverse grassland.

Looking out across a native grassland, one could be excused for imagining an overgrown lawn. But a healthy and productive rangeland means more than just tall grass; it means a self-regenerative system that can support animals over the long term. A field full of waist-high grass, if invasive or inedible, can be useless. But a patch of barren soil with the right seed bank and fertilizer can be healthy range, if given time enough to regrow.

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To weather a changing climate, coffee needs bees, trees: study

Coffee tree blossom

Coffee needs bees. Bees— such as the one pollinating this coffee tree blossom in Colombia — are expected to suffer as temperatures rise due to climate change. For example, bee diversity is projected to decline up to 18 percent in coffee-growing regions. (© Matyas Rehak)

Editor’s note: The world is slowly waking up to a bitter reality: that climate change could squeeze coffee supplies just as global demand for it is surging. With a major initiative under way to help make coffee completely sustainable, new research published today highlights just what is at stake for one of the world’s most widely traded commodities.

For coffee lovers, a new research paper is grounds for worry.

Rising average temperatures caused by climate change could reduce the suitability of lands for growing coffee in Latin America — the world’s largest coffee-producing region — by as much as 88 percent by 2050, the study found.

But your morning cup does not depend on suitable climes alone — it also relies on bees to pollinate coffee trees. How will those bees fare as the climate changes? Not that well, according to the study, which found that average bee diversity will decline between 8 percent and 18 percent in coffee-suitable areas — but not enough of a drop on its own, the researchers found, to imperil the viability of coffee crops in places where it will still grow.

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In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Top stories in nature news: new hope for sustainable fisheries, key funding for U.N. climate efforts and deforestation’s growing carbon footprint. (© Polsin Junpangpen)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a new feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

Tuna-fishing nations agree on plan to replenish severely depleted Pacific bluefin stocks

The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield (@annafifield) reports on an agreement struck last week aims to save the world’s fast-dwindling stocks of prized bluefin tuna.

The story: The pact includes several large tuna-consuming countries as well as the two main bodies that manage tuna fisheries in the Pacific. It aims to rebuild bluefin stocks — currently at less than 3 percent of their historic size — to 20 percent of historic levels by 2034. And it allows countries such as Japan — which consumes some 80 percent of the world’s bluefin — to continue to catch the delicacy.

The big picture: For tuna, 2017 could well turn out to be an auspicious year. In June, the Tuna Traceability Initiative was announced, billed as the first step toward total sustainability in the global commercial fishing industry. “Once you have traceability, everything else falls into place,” Greg Stone, executive vice president at Conservation International, told Human Nature in June: “You can determine whether there’s a sustainable stock or not; you can determine whether there’s human rights abuses going on in the supply chain; you can determine product freshness.”

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Three things we’re reading about hurricanes

Hurricane Irma

This visible light image of Hurricane Irma was captured by NOAA’s GOES East satellite as it strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane in the Central Atlantic Ocean on September 5, 2017. (© NASA)

As recovery efforts ramp up in Houston, all eyes are on the latest predictions for Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, as it churns toward Florida.

But in a changing climate, up-to-the-minute storm tracks can mask a bigger picture about the role of climate change in hurricanes, and in how humans work with nature — or not — to mitigate the worst impacts.

Here are three stories you may have missed.

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Coalition maps the future of coffee in an uncharted climate

coffee farmer, Colombia

A coffee farmer picks fresh coffee cherrries in Colombia’s coffee producing zone, which is suffering the effects of climate change. (© Niel Palmer, CIAT)

Editor’s note: September 29 marks National Coffee Day in the U.S. Throughout the month of September, Human Nature is publishing a special series of reports on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. This post is the first in the series.

By 2050, the world’s area suitable for coffee production is projected to be cut in half.

It’s a statistic you’ve likely heard before, and one the coffee sector struggles with because of its devastating effects on not only the quality and quantity of coffee available to us, but the lives of the farmers who grow it.

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Sustainability heavyweights take aim at environmental impacts of soy, beef, palm oil

A worker harvesting oil palm fruit in Malaysia. (© Benjamin Drummond)

They are on supermarket shelves everywhere. They have some of the largest environmental footprints anywhere. Now, a new effort is aiming to minimize the environmental impacts of soy, beef and palm oil — by bringing together some of the world’s most significant players in sustainability.

Announced today in New York, the Good Growth Partnership brings together the U.N. Development Program, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the U.N. Environment Program, along with environmental nonprofits and some of the world’s largest agricultural exporters. Conservation International (CI) joins the World Wildlife Fund as the initiative’s two founding NGO participants.

Representing a combined investment of US$ 300 million, the initiative is one of the largest efforts to date to ensure that production of these products does not come at the expense of nature.

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On Amazon Day, the 5 stories you need to read


An aerial view of the Amazon. (© Johnny Lye)

Editor’s note: Today is Amazon Day, created to commemorate the founding of what is now known as the State of Amazonas in Brazil. True to its name, the state — which is nearly four times the size of California — is home to the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical forest. To celebrate, peek under the rainforest canopy with five of Human Nature’s most popular Amazon stories.

crew carry anaconda filmed for CI's new virtual reality film in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador1. Mud, parrots and parasites: Filming the rainforest in virtual reality

Go behind-the-scenes with the camera crew of CI’s latest virtual reality film, “Under the Canopy,” on their 26-day expedition to two of the most pristine areas in the Amazon: southern Suriname and Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park.

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On a typhoon-swept island, one town rebuilds its coast guard: nature


Mangroves in the village of Silonay, Philippines. (@ Conservation International/photo by Kimberly Hoong)

Editor’s note: In 2011, the Philippines town of Silonay — a fishing village situated on a small island in the province of Oriental Mindoro — established a mangrove “ecopark.” The effort, supported by Conservation International (CI), local governments and other non-profit partners, aims to protect and restore mangrove coastal forests that had been degraded by years of unsustainable wood harvesting. (Mangroves, which store outsized amounts of carbon in their root systems, are a critical nature-based solution to climate change). Since the park was established, the village has worked to replant mangroves, improve fishing and support livelihoods through ecotourism.

As coastal communities face the effects of overfishing and sea-level rise, restoring mangroves has never been more important. In this series of photos, Human Nature looks at one community’s efforts to rebuild what has been lost.

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My ‘aha!’ moment: Fishers are not the enemies of healthy oceans

spiny lobster

Spiny lobster in the Galápagos Islands. (© photo by Les Williams/Flickr)

Editor’s note: In honor of Conservation International’s (CI) 30th anniversary, this is the latest post in an occasional series called “My ‘aha!’ moment.” CI staff reflect on moments of insight or discovery that paved the way for their careers in conservation. For Mauricio Castrejón, fisheries manager for CI’s Americas field division marine program and a Lui-Walton Fellow, his ‘aha!’ moment was sparked when the 2007 financial crisis hit the Galápagos Islands — and presented unexpected opportunities for change. Read other posts in this series.

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