Tree biodiversity in farmer cooperatives of a shade coffee landscape in western El Salvador
Conservation of tropical biodiversity in agricultural landscapes has become more important as the area covered by natural ecosystems decreases. Understanding the types of biodiversity common in agriculturally managed lands, and involving farmers in conservation planning, is important for regional conservation goals.
research goals & methods
This study analyzes the effects of local livelihoods, cooperative types, and selected biophysical variables (elevation, slope, percent shade, distance to the forest, coffee density, and coffee age) on tree biodiversity in shade coffee cooperatives of El Salvador. Tree inventories were conducted in 51 plots in coffee cooperatives, identifying 2743 individuals from 46 families and 123 tree species. Species richness and tree diameters differed among some cooperatives, with greater richness associated with greater stem density; other biophysical variables had little impact on diversity. The amount of shade in the coffee plantations differed among cooperatives, particularly in the wet season. 16% of the species found in these cooperatives were also found in a neighboring forest in results published in a recent study.
conclusions & takeaways
This study indicates that the number of tree species found in a coffee plantation increases with the density of shade trees included in the system. In turn, agroecological management, as influenced by farmer livelihood strategies and cooperative types, directly affects shade canopy composition. Important factors to take into account are the types of farmer organizations present, the cost of maintaining species of conservation concern, and the potential benefits that conservation could bring to the livelihood strategies of farm households.
Tree biodiversity in farmer cooperatives of a shade coffee landscape in western El Salvador. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 2007;119:145–159. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2006.07.004..
- Environmental Program/Department of Plant & Soil Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, USA
- Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA