RESEARCHERS from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom warn that wild species of coffee may soon go extinct. Sixty percent of these wild species is threatened by climate change, deforestation, diseases and drought. They are vital for developing coffee crop production to support the global demand for coffee. Arabica, the most popular kind of coffee, is already endangered, but less popular species should also be protected. In order to have coffee crop that is resilient to diseases and climate change, we need to preserve a diverse range of wild coffee species. Fewer coffee crops would mean that prices would increase and future coffee may lose the quality that we enjoy now.
Forest habitats are vital for the growth of coffee. The increasing prevalence of deforestation threatens the populations of wild coffee. Besides this, these plants grow in a very specific habitat. Any changes in temperature or rainfall could render certain forests as uninhabitable by coffee in the future. In Ethiopia, 85% of the land currently being used by coffee may no longer be used for coffee by 2080.
According to the head of coffee research at Kew, Aaron Davis, the coffee species being threatened are those that can be used to further develop coffee in the future. Losing these species would mean that we risk the long-term sustainability of the coffee industry. He also said that we must work towards improved management and creation of protected areas for wild species coffee. More focus and research in germplasms, or seed banks and living collections of coffee, would also help keep our coffee populations resilient in the future. Coffee drinkers can also learn more about the impact of the coffee that they drink and make sure that these are coming from plantations that also seek to protect forests.