Measuring and managing the environmental cost of coffee production in Latin America

Coffee is a major international commodity, and because of this, coffee production has the potential for considerable global impacts on the environment. These impacts can include the consumption of energy, water, land and the loss of native forest. Here we quantify these costs using Costa Rica as a case study, and describe an initiative undertaken at the Montes de Oro Cooperative in which these impacts are reduced substantially through the development and application of alternative technologies. We show how these processes reduce the consumption of resources, and also reduce economic costs to the farmer, thus providing a market-based incentive for conservation. The initiatives undertaken at Montes de Oro can provide a model for the future, for reducing the environmental costs of coffee production, while simultaneously improving the economic conditions of the people in coffee producing regions.

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