Why a Catalog?

Rising temperatures, distorted rainfall patterns and emerging challenges with pests and disease caused by climate change are affecting coffee production around the globe. With the recognition that retaining and replanting trees in coffee landscapes will be a critical strategy to climate change adaptation, farmers are exploring the need to maintain or re-introduce canopy cover in and around production systems, creating agroforestry settings that can play a central role in combating the effects of climate change and supporting income diversification strategies. However, farmers and practitioners often lack the information needed to select shade trees that are good for coffee, support and diversify household incomes and provide benefits to wildlife and ecosystem services.

The Shade Catalog is meant to do just that – provide coffee farmers and technical assistance teams key information about tree species that have been found in and around coffee landscapes. From the main attributes of the species, to the use and benefits, through to propagation and management tips, the catalog is a useful guide for whole-farm planning.

This catalog is intended to promote the diversity of shade trees within coffee farming systems with applications for any group propagating shade trees or providing trainings about the importance of shade trees as a component of sustainable coffee management.

Why Shade?

Shade trees on coffee farms are an integral part of this sustainability and provide resources to farmers, wildlife, and the coffee crop itself. Shade trees help regulate the temperature of the coffee trees, provide shelter from wind and rain, and can provide additional income from their harvests. While sun-grown systems can have higher yields, shaded farms easily outperform them in sustainability measurements. Habitats on shade-grown coffee farms outshone sun-grown coffee farms, with increased numbers and species of birds, improved bird habitat, soil protection/erosion control, carbon sequestration, natural pest control and improved pollination.

This catalog should serve as a reference to select, propagate and promote additional tree species throughout coffee growing regions.

Choosing the right shade tree

Agroforestry systems generate significant environmental benefits though there are a number of tradeoffs that should be considered when providing guidance to farmers as they consider these options. Shaded coffee typically has lower productivity than full sun coffee and increase the cost of weeding, while pest pressure may be lower and natural predators more abundant in shade systems and therefore require less costly pest management products5. Economic trade-offs should be considered to find the right combination of shade trees that provide environmental benefits while generating economic returns. In addition to levels of revenue, the timelines are also important to consider, as timber species take longer to generate returns than fruit trees or other revenue generating shade variety options. Different management regimens and the timing of labor requirements should also be considered, as shade management can be labor intensive on mature shade trees and may also require special knowledge and training. These tradeoffs should be examined to ensure strong alignment with farmer needs and opportunities to help catalyze changes in farm management to advance broader environmental goals.

A living document

This catalog contains information about tree species currently found within coffee farming systems in select countries. Some tree species facilitate coffee yields and improve soil nutrition, while other trees may be selected by farmers due to their farm, income, or biodiversity benefits. While many of these species are propagated by farmers, some simply occur on coffee farms through natural regeneration. Tree species accounts were created from field research in Peru, interviews with farmer groups and agroforestry experts, and data compiled from scientific publications and technical reports. The catalog focuses on tree species but also includes commonly planted palms and shrubs. While this catalog compiles all current knowledge, future research is needed to establish propagation guides and establish how each species interacts with coffee plants. Nomenclature follows www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. This catalog is intended to be a living document that will be refined and updated as more information or research becomes available about these species.