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Ecological connectivity between coffee plantations and forests

Coffee farming is not merely the production and commercialisation of a coffee beverage; it is a

complex system intertwined with various environmental areas. Currently, the expansion of

agricultural frontiers is considered one of the main causes of forest and ecosystem reduction. It is estimated that by the year 2050, millions of hectares will be converted to agricultural uses to meet the global demand for food (Tilman et al., 2001). Based on this forecast, actions must be taken to reduce these impacts, striving to find a balance between human needs and the planet's environmental well-being (Solís Rodríguez, 2014). One of these actions is forest conservation,

which stands out as a crucial element for the sustainability of coffee farming and the preservation of biodiversity.

Coffee plantations are often surrounded by forests, as trees provide beneficial shade for coffee

cultivation. This agroforestry environment not only benefits producers by improving bean quality

but also creates a habitat rich in biodiversity. Birds, insects, and other organisms find shelter and

food in these ecosystems, contributing to maintaining a natural balance. Moreover, they generate

ecological connectivity between natural habitats, facilitating species movement, reproduction, and maintaining healthy populations. In the context of coffee farming, understanding and promoting ecological connectivity is essential for preserving biological diversity and crop quality.

One of the primary examples of ecological connectivity is the pollination process. Although coffee exhibits self-pollination, experiments have shown that cross-pollination by specific insects, particularly bees, increases fruit yield on coffee plant branches by up to 75% compared to self-pollination and manual pollination, which achieve fruit production rates of only 45% and 60%, respectively. Additionally, fruit weight can increase by up to 25% when pollinators have access to flowers (Ricketts et al., 2008; Solís Rodríguez, 2014). However, when crops are located far away in forested areas, the richness and diversity of these pollinators decrease.

Secondly, connectivity promotes the creation of biological corridors, which allow species flow

between areas, promoting genetic diversity and adaptability to environmental changes. They serve as true repositories of ecosystem services in both provisioning and regulation (Morandín Ahuerma et al., 2023); on one hand, maintaining the quantity and quality of water, ensuring a constant supply for coffee irrigation, and on the other hand, preventing soil erosion, controlling floods and droughts, benefiting nutrient recycling in landscapes intervened by humans, contributing to the long-term sustainability of coffee production.

Despite the evident benefits, pressure on forests in coffee-growing regions is high. Unsustainable coffee farming expansion and deforestation threaten the integrity of these ecosystems. However, ecological connectivity between coffee and forests is not only essential for bean quality and productivity but also has significant implications for biodiversity conservation. By adopting sustainable approaches and promoting harmonious coexistence between coffee farming and forests, a more resilient and balanced future can be ensured for both producers and the surrounding biodiversity.



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