Ensuring Bird Friendly habitats
Birds and Coffee
Agroforestry practices in the tropics reduce pesticide use and erosion, protect watersheds, and provide habitat for birds and other animals. Shade coffee and shade cocoa farms have a long history in Venezuela, and produce some of the best in the world, but are at risk of being lost in Venezuela’s current turmoil. Finding ways to value these traditional practices right now brings benefits to communities, to birds – and to coffee and chocolate lovers!
In the future, one place we can reintroduce Red Siskins is on shade coffee, cocoa, and other nature-friendly farms, near large areas of suitable protected habitat. Farmers are working with us now to become certified as Bird Friendly habitat according to Smithsonian standards, which are some of the strictest in the world. Farmers are looking forward to the premium prices their certified crops are worth, and their farms will not only serve as safe habitats for the Red Siskin, but they will also help many other species.
In the mountains on the north-central coast of Venezuela, farmers in Piedra de Cachimbo and La Florida are working to obtain the organic and the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly certification. We aim to increase farmer incomes through certification, via workshops and training activities, and to produce locally grown high-quality coffee. More than 80 farmers have joined the project, and we hope to have 160 hectares certified by the end of 2019!
In Guyana, the South Rupununi Conservation Society is the most important RSI partner. Our collaboration has led to over $70,000 in grants to date for conservation and biodiversity studies. We are currently working to expand our agroforestry program to communities in the South Rupununi of Guyana. Find out more here: From Red Siskin Science, New Paths and Opportunities in Guyana.
● We are starting a new phase in the Birds and Coffee project!
Thanks to renewed support from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) we are starting the 3rd phase of the Birds and Coffee project.
This new phase will add to the more than 40 producers committed to organic and bird-friendly production and 400 hectares protected. With this support we will reach new farming communities, expand to other shade crops, as well as add some 200 new hectares of protected forests for biodiversity in Venezuela.
● Longterm sustainability requires a commitment to training
Thanks to support from the Small Grants Program (SGP) of the Global Environment Facility we have provided training to more than 70 coffee producers in the construction and implementation of climate-smart technologies. We have built 20 drying chambers and mycorrhizae units, 8 tanks with beneficial microorganisms and delivered materials for the construction of 40 biols (a type of organic fertilizer). Finally, during our technical visit we conducted a COVID-19 awareness and prevention workshop to help farmer members of the ACAFLO agroforestry association and their families stay safe while remaining productive.
● ACAFLO producers have a website! You can visit it HERE.
The new ACAFLO website is undoubtedly an important achievement towards the consolidation of this organization as an example for new initiatives and regions of the country. ACAFLO is taking a leadership role locally and nationally to promote best practices in agroforestry management for the benefit of nature and people.
● Birds and coffee: protecting the Red Siskin, and 200 more species!
We recently completed a new bird census in the framework of the project supported by the US Migratory Bird Protection Act This census resulted in the registration of more than 30 thousand individual birds belonging to a total of 221 resident species and more than 10 migratory species that inhabit the study area in which the Birds and Coffee project is promoting best agroforestry practices to help protect and recover habitat for birds and many other native species.
2020 – 2018
- We managed to establish the Asociación de Productores Agroforestales de Piedra e Cachimbo y La Florida (ACAFLO), composed by a group of producers committed to the implementation of environmentally friendly coffee cultivation practices.
- We monitored the deforestation rate of the area of study, finding a reduction in the loss of forest in parcels involved in the project.
- We have identified 237 resident bird species and 8 migratory species in the study area. We completed the first vegetation inventory for the project and have identified 12 to 18 tree species suitable for shade crops.
- We produced a manual for Good Agroforestry Practices, freely available online (in Spanish)
- In Venezuela, 80 producers have now trained in good shade-farming practices with us, as a major step to obtaining specialty coffee certification. Ten of our fourteen training workshops were delivered in the focal Piedra de Cachimbo area. These producers also learned about Red Siskin conservation and are eager to provide protection for this species on their farms, as well as other birds, once reintroduction takes place.
- We have done recreational activities with the Coffee Grower Day (2018 and 2019 editions) and the World Migratory Bird Day.
- In December 2019, 39 UP obtained organic certification under the standards of USAID and the European Economic Community. 13 of these 39 UPs obtained the Bird Friendly certification following the standards of the Smithsonian Institution.
- We have supported communities that are involved in rescuing their culture and coffee tradition with an organic focus.
- More than 38,000 seedlings of trees and coffee established in plant nurseries
- 78 families were interviewed as part of the activities of the social component, to identify their requirements and appreciations
- In 2017, thanks to funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Smithsonian Institution (SI) we started a project to preserve the Critically Endangered Venezuelan tropical dry forest, which serves as habitat for the Red Siskin, for migratory birds and many other species. One project activity is the shade-coffee certification described above.
- In 2017, in partnership with Mantuano Chocolate and Café Arábica, we began producing a Special Edition Chocolate bar, made with the finest certified organic cacao and organic coffee produced on shade-crop farms in Red Siskin habitat.
- IF YOU ARE A PRODUCER Who wants to implement shade-crop farming practices
- IF YOU ARE A ROASTER Who wants to support the work of local producers and purchase certified shade-crops
- IF YOU ARE A FOUNDER Who wants to contribute to the conservation of tropical forests and birds biodiversity