Six in 10 wild coffee species endangered by habitat loss

Kew scientists’ analysis of 124 wild species shows 60% facing possible extinction, risking viability of commercial stock

Wild coffee species are under threat, with 60% of them facing possible extinction, including Arabica, the original of the world’s most popular form of coffee, researchers say.

Most coffee species are found in the forests of Africa and Madagascar. They are threatened by climate change and the loss of natural habitat, as well as by the spread of diseases and pests.

While cultivated coffee is thriving, making up a hugely profitable business globally, the health of those species will also be affected by climate change.

In Ethiopia the number of locations where Arabica grows could be reduced by as much as 85% by 2080, and up to 60% of the land used for Ethiopia’s coffee production could become unsuitable by the end of the century, say scientists.

Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, exporting $1bn worth of the crop annually. About 15 million people in the country work in coffee production. Wild Arabica coffee, which is native to the region, is an important seed stock for coffee farming and is also harvested for commercial coffee production, so threats to it could have a damaging economic impact on the country.

Commercial coffee on a global scale will also be affected if wild species die out, as those plants could hold the key to cross-breeding coffee varieties more resilient to the effects of climate change and possibly resistant to certain pests and diseases. Read more...

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