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COLOMBIA’S ‘JAGUAR’ COFFEE FARMERS AID CONSERVATION OF BIG CAT

Coffee farmers in Colombia have worked with conservationists to share their coffee trees inside a 93,500 hectares conservation zone in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, with the endangered Jaguar.

The concept was introduced after forest fires in 2012 and 2013 destroyed much of the Jaguars natural habitat, forcing them to hunt closer to farms, taking down farmers livestock and impacting their livelihoods.

In 2017, the Director of Colombia’s Water and Land Conservation Project (ProCAT), Mr José Fernando González-Maya, and some researchers from the Institute of Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico wrote an article in the journal Oryx raising alarm over Jaguar levels in South America.

Jaguars are tracked in groups referred to as ‘populations’, of which there are only 34 in South America. The study noted that 25 of these were critically endangered and a further 8 were endangered.

The scheme helps the big cat by requiring the farmers to dedicate 1 hectare of land as a safe ‘corridor’ for the big cats for every hectare of land on which they grow coffee. The farmers receive a certificate that shows their compliance with the scheme, and this also allows them to sell their coffee at a price premium in the market.

Another study looked at how conservation could work and determined that land was a key part of the solution, but since most of it is privately owned, they needed to devise a way that would compensate the coffee farmers in the region for giving up some of their lands.

Solutions when you see them, always look obvious, but we applaud the innovative way that both farmers and conversationists have worked together to make the outcome a win/win, while offering consumers a unique product they can feel good about buying.

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