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2826 views August 13, 2013 posted by Maja Wallengren

New Coffee Study Finds Rainforest Alliance Certification Promotes Healthier Streams

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Vietnamese Shade Coffee

In the photo, Rainforest Alliance certified shade coffee in Vietnam

New Study Finds Rainforest Alliance Certification Promotes Healthier Streams

AUG 13 (SpillingTheBeans)–A new study by Colombia’s Coffee Research Institute, Cenicafe, has revealed that sustainable farming practices play a key role in improving the health of streams, benefitting the local communities and wildlife that rely on them as their primary source of water. By comparing water quality on Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farms in Colombia with non-certified farms, researchers found that the sustainable management practices adopted on certified farms significantly enhances the health of local waterways, the study said.

While perhaps not surprising, the findings is the first time scientific evidence has been compiled from a more comprehensive study on the practices in coffee farming, and as such the new study provides interesting insight into sustainable and ecologically sound farming methods in coffee.

“The quality of water on farms was measured by looking at key indicators of stream health, such as the presence of sensitive aquatic invertebrates, erosion, streamside vegetation, and the oxygen and pH levels of the water,” said David Hughell, research and geospatial analyst at the Rainforest Alliance, in a press release.

Rainforest Alliance provides the most complete and extensive of certification programs in not just coffee, but a range of other tropical commodities as well. SpillingTheBeans has conducted multiple independent research on the different practices involved in certification programs for coffee and no other program comes even close to the comprehensive approach the Rainforest Alliance takes when it comes to very strict demands not only on sustainable, economic and environmental practices. In social development alone, RA certification requires that more than 25 different criteria are met including minimum education, scholarships for girls, family planning and health clinics in order to earn the seal. While not all these criteria necessarily are 100 percent alike from one cooperative of private farm to the other, the social code is far more ranging and details as seen in other programs.

“Results of the study found that certified farms had substantially healthier waterways than non-certified farms, enhanced by a greater abundance of vegetation along the stream banks,” said Hughell.

“Before we achieved Rainforest Alliance certification, the quality of water on our farm was very poor and it smelled terrible. We would empty our garbage and sewage directly into the steam and we sprayed toxic chemicals on our crops that would run-off into the water,” said Norbey Lasso Rocha of La Esmeralda, a Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farm in Colombia, in the statement. “Now water conditions are much improved. We treat wastewater and no longer dump our garbage into the stream.”

For more on the Rainforest Alliance, please visit: www.rainforest-alliance.org

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