Global warming could reduce Latin American coffee-growing areas by 88%

Henrietta Strickland
September 14, 2017

"In the areas projected to lose coffee suitability, we wanted to know whether that loss could be offset by bees", he added.

In the end, the researchers of the University of Vermont projected that mountainous areas of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Costa Rica could be prime locations for expanded coffee production.

Researchers at the University of Vermont projected these numbers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on Monday.

The research, conducted by a team of Latin American and US scientists, also examined global warming's impact on the region's bee species - which play a vital role in pollinating coffee crops.

The study authors say that their projections are necessary in planning ahead to conserve current tropical forest land, prioritize farming practices that sustain current coffee production climates and increase bee habitats where bee populations are expected to decrease and in future coffee production areas. "This is the first study to show how both will likely change under global warming - in ways that will hit coffee producers hard".

According to Ricketts, research forecasts yielded a huge loss of coffee regions which are far greater than initial forecasts of previous global assessments. It could also affect the livelihood of people who depend on the coffee industry.

While the research suggests coffee suitability and bee populations will decline in Latin America, it does offer some good news. The study also considered the effect of the global phenomenon on the behavior of bees that assist the growth by pollination. And though Arabica coffee is capable of self-pollinating, Ricketts points out that bees even "increase the quality of the beans by making their size more uniform".

However, there could be either positive or negative impact of climate on bees and therefore it could stop coffee production. For example, a bee that is at the very edge of its heat tolerance won't follow coffee into warmer areas.

Global warming may reduce the coffee-growing areas in Latin America by as much as 88 percent by the year 2050, researchers have revealed.

According to the study, as well as to common sense, tropical forests provide key habitats for wild bees and other important pollinators.

Climate change will, in places, have opposite impacts on ground suitability and bee diversity.

Protect forests and maintain shade trees, windbreaks, live fences, weed strips, and native plants that provide food, nesting and other materials to support pollinators.

The research was supported by the International Climate Initiative, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR) Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

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