Shade-Grown Coffee Protects Coral Reefs in Puerto Rico

Transition away from sun-grown coffee means more plants and less runoff.

Runoff from agriculture, deforestation, and coastal development threaten coral reef ecosystems. Coffee farmers in southwestern Puerto Rico, an area that receives over 100 inches of rainfall annually, worked with scientists to reduce agricultural runoff by transitioning from sun-grown coffee to shade-grown coffee crops. Converting the bare hillsides to forested areas that support shade-grown coffee protects water quality, provides higher yields, and reduces irrigation needs.

Thirty-six coffee farms covering 1,800 acres are now participating in this ridge-to-reef effort that makes reefs more resilient, coasts more stable, and coffee farms more profitable. NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and National Marine Fisheries Service Restoration Center were involved in collaborating, planning, and funding this project. (2016)

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Partners: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local coffee farmers, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Restoration Center