Coffee crisis 60 of wild species could go extinct some within decades

first_img Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Coffee nurseries like this are common in southwest Ethiopia. Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Workers prepare coffee, Ethiopian style. Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country A young arabica coffee plant springs up from the forest floor. Workers prepare to dry coffee beans in the sun. Workers prepare coffee, Ethiopian style. Farmers harvest forest-grown coffee by hand. Workers bag freshly harvested coffee in Yayu in Ethiopia. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Email Coffee crisis? 60% of wild species could go extinct, some within decades Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Hairy berries. Supersize seeds. No caffeine. Compared with the beans that supply our daily brew, the wild relatives of coffee plants can seem downright bizarre. But they also harbor genetic traits that could help farmed coffee plants survive threats such as drought and disease—and maybe create pleasing new cups in the process. Now, a new pair of studies says up to 60% of these wild coffee species could go extinct, some in the next 10 to 20 years, thanks to deforestation, human settlement, and climate change.There are 124 known species in the genus Coffea, but most of us drink domesticated versions of only two: tasty C. arabica, which accounts for two-thirds of the global market, and hardy C. canephora, better known as robusta, which comprises the rest. But arabica is especially susceptible to diseases, such as the devastating coffee leaf rust fungus, and arabica-robusta hybrids that were once resistant are beginning to succumb as well.To map the locations and health of wild coffee species, Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted the most comprehensive global assessment to date. They started with more than 5000 records of wild species compiled by other researchers and explorers, and they collected further data during dozens of expeditions to key areas in Africa, Madagascar, and Indian Ocean islands. Workers bag freshly harvested coffee in Yayu in Ethiopia. By Carol Cruzan MortonJan. 18, 2019 , 8:00 AM ‹› Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Alan Schaller/Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Emily Garthwaite After mapping the location of each species, they determined—based on plant population and habitat—which were at risk. Sixty percent were threatened with extinction, and some might already be extinct, they report this week in Science Advances. “We knew it would be high, but we didn’t actually think it would be that high,” Davis says. For comparison, 22% of all plant species worldwide are threatened.In a separate study, Davis teamed up with other researchers from Kew and the Environment, Climate Change, and Coffee Forest forum in Addis Ababa for an in-depth look at wild arabica, which was at low risk in the global analysis. Their new study, unlike the old, factored in climate change, using remote sensing data and computer modeling. It proved to be crucial: They found that climate change could cut the population of wild arabica in half by 2080, the researchers report this month in Global Change Biology. The finding suggests that other seemingly low-risk wild coffee species could in fact be at even higher risk, Davis says.The new papers “strengthen what we know” about the vulnerability of wild coffee species, says Sarada Krishnan, director of global initiatives at the Denver Botanic Gardens and the owner of a coffee plantation in Jamaica. Two years ago, Krishnan and other scientists investigated one way of keeping wild coffee species alive: through gene banks. These repositories house genetic material that can be grown back into plants should their wild cousins be wiped from the face of the earth. The most famous repository is the “doomsday” seed vault on Spitsbergen in Norway. But coffee seeds will not germinate after being frozen. Instead, plants have been haphazardly conserved in 52 field collections in coffee-growing countries. That’s an expensive, labor-intensive enterprise in areas with limited resources, making the beans’ continued existence precarious, Krishnan and others say.Because they can’t save all the coffee, Krishnan and her international team of coffee scientists prioritized four gene banks (three in Africa and one in Costa Rica) in their quest to save wild coffee. Among the immediate needs: Upgrade conditions for existing plants, restock with missing wild species, and enable sharing of data and genetic material—and find an estimated $25 million from industry over the next 25 years to fund it all.The wild species will be used to develop new, hardier varieties by coffee breeders like Simon Martin Mvuyekure, who is looking for disease- and drought-resistant crops to plant in East Africa. Another dream for some: to create a hybrid with a flavor as divine as the legendary bean that saved Panama’s coffee industry nearly 10 years ago.Growers there were facing record low prices and selling unprofitable land to developers, when one farm experimented with a wild Ethiopian strain whose seeds had originated at the Costa Rica gene bank. Known as Geisha, its distinctive flowery aroma rated high among tasters and broke all records at auction. It is now the most expensive coffee on Earth.last_img

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