Trees May Not Be for the Birds


Editorial Policy

Published on

It’s a widely accepted thought that shade-grown coffee is better for native species, especially birds. For years, coffee farms have been able to obtain a “Bird Friendly” certification from the Smithsonian through planting shade trees in their coffee fields to provide natural habitat. However, a new study from the University of Delaware has found that we may be overlooking the most important factor: what kind of trees are being planted. The study found that non-native, exotic trees do little to nothing to attract birds and the insects they feed on, while native plants are the most effective. Results showed that birds exhibit a preference for specific native tree species, especially legumes.

“Farmers often select tree species that are beneficial to them and produce other products to sell in addition to coffee,” says Desirée Narango, a former UD grad student who worked on the study. “Some farms might prioritize walnut trees because they produce lumber or mango trees to produce fruit. There are so many choices. The goal of this project was to get more information to help farmers make that decision.”

Having native plants that attract native insects and birds creates biodiversity for better long-term sustainability. Growers can also benefit from the additional nitrogen provided by legumes, increasing coffee production.

Share This Article

Fresh Cup Staff

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

Other Articles You May Like

The Cup In Hand: How Shape and Design Affect Coffee Drinking

The shape, weight, and feel of a cup can have a significant impact on the way you experience the flavor of coffee.
by Mikey Rinaldo | March 22, 2023

The Challenges of Coffee Certifications Go Beyond The Retail Shelf

Coffee certifications can be a valuable tool for farmers and roasters—but can be cost-prohibitive and difficult to navigate. We explore the benefits and challenges of certification programs before a coffee ever reaches the shelf.
by Anne Mercer | February 24, 2023

Let’s Talk About Coffee Certifications

B-corp, organic, fair trade: what do all the certifications gracing the shelves of coffee shops and grocery stores mean? We take a closer look.
by Anne Mercer | February 3, 2023

Sweet Companions: Creating The Perfect Coffee and Cheese Pairing

Its high fat content and overall creaminess makes cheese ideal for balancing coffee’s acidity.
by Madeleine Coghlan | January 24, 2023