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Reconciling Sustainable Coffee Landscape And Biodiversity


The World Bank has funded a project that reconciles environmental and socioeconomic aspects along the entire coffee value chain. The project assists Burundi to improve the sustainability of selected areas within coffee landscapes through:

  1. Implementing sustainable land and water management practices in productive areas in order to prevent further land degradation and rehabilitate degraded areas.
  2. Establishing a shade – grown coffee pilot program that promotes, with environmentally - friendly production technologies, a polyculture that includes coffee as well as various types of trees and others plants provide additional products for income generation and consumption;
  3. Promoting sustainable management in a key protected area, under the premise that protected areas demarcation has been agreed between key stakeholders and neighboring local communities have alternative sources for improving livelihoods, so that the risk of agricultural expansion to the area will be reduced;
  4. Addressing point-source pollution through the establishment of efficient, environmentally-friendly coffee processing technologies and the strengthening of policies and regulations;
  5. 5. Promoting marketing and commercialization strategies for high-quality coffee and processed with reduced environmental negative impacts; 6. Piloting initiatives that generate alternative sources of income such as agri-tourism and ecotourism. Accessing higher value markets with shade-grown coffee benefit the coffee sector as well as generate incentive for the conservation and improved management of the environment.
Problem, challenge or context: 

Economic development in Burundi has been set back by several years of recurring internal conflict. Unsustainable agriculture has contributed to the environmental issues of land degradation, loss of biodiversity, poor water management and vulnerability to climate change. The use by farmers of marginal lands on steep slopes and the elimination of tree cover on hillsides for increased production has contributed to land degradation, biodiversity loss as well as expansion of agricultural frontier into protected area. The economy remains undiversified and dominated by agriculture, which accounts for about 32% of GDP, employs 95% of the active population and provides more than 80% of export earnings. Coffee is the main export crop, accounting for more than 60% of export revenues. The coffee sector suffers from low and declining production due to ageing plantations, high intermediary costs, degraded soils and an inadequate incentive framework. The greatest environmental problems are linked to deforestation. It is linked to high population pressure on natural resources, agricultural land clearing aggravated by the scarcity of fertile lands, bush fires, exploitation of marshes and other wetlands, and poor management of agricultural lands and protected areas.

Specific elements of components: 
  • All of the measures are integrated under a landscape approach that considers both geographical and socio-economic considerations in order to manage the productive and protected areas with a landscape mosaic.
  • Under the approach the connectivity between ecosystems is considered as well as linking local-site level action (at farm, forest) to the broader landscape level. The approach integrates ecosystem goods and services objectives with human well-being objectives in order to promote sustainable natural resources management.
  • The project benefits local farmers, producer organizations, and cooperatives. 
  • The project benefits the inhabitants of the buffer zone of the Bururi forest by promoting more sustainable land use practices and conservation compatible livelihoods.
  • The project also strengthens the capacity of the public sector to manage and regulate ecosystems services in productive and protected landscapes.
  • Finally the project benefits the local community by preserving biodiversity of global significance, sequestering carbon, and reducing land degradation. 
Key lessons learned: 

The success of the project is based on experience within Burundi and abroad (Colombia, Ethiopia and Rwanda) through South - South Knowledge Exchange (SSKE).

Lessons learned:

  1. Landscape management must address a myriad of interactions among land, water and people. Successful approaches balance evidence-based planning with meaningful stakeholder involvement at an early stage.
  2. The success of the project is due to integrated approach that addresses livelihoods and landscape management. Land and water management interventions can safeguard natural resources, while livelihoods interventions can reduce pressure on natural resources.
  3. Promotion of shade-grown coffee needs to consider the different positive interactions ( soil fertility, wildlife habitat, conservation and water, soil and biodiversity, modification of microclimate, …) that are present when combining coffee plantations with shade trees as well as potential negative interactions ( competition for light, water and nutrients, …). It’s necessary to determine the particular conditions in which positive interactions outweigh the negative ones.
Impacts and outcomes: 
  • 4500 ha of Land area where sustainable land and water management practices, including shade grown coffee have been adopted; -Environmentally friendly effluent control systems are implemented in six selected Coffee Washing Station (CWS)
  • 5000 households with 50% female are direct project beneficiaries
  • The biodiversity conservation is increased from the improved protection and management of the Bururi forest nature reserve along with the expected addition of different species of shade trees to coffee plantations. Social benefits include, but are not limited to: enhancement of livelihoods sources, job creation, income security, induced development, and the strengthening of local community ownership of sustainable land management investments.
  • The project has promoted female participation in each of the conservation activities and shade grown coffee.
Contact details: 
Nzigiyimpa Léonidas, Chief Warden of Protected Areas of South of Burundi, Burundian Office for Protection of Environment (OBPE)
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