In Puerto Rico, the indiscriminate clearing of farms was done often without proper protection of water bodies. The consequences of this approach led to: soil erosion and acidification, loss of soil fertility, loss of habitat and biodiversity, sedimentation of water reservoirs and has caused the loss of scenic beauty. In order to deal with the many environmental problems associated with these practices and to further support sound economic alternatives of production, a multidisciplinary group established the Shade Coffee Roundtable Initiative in Puerto Rico in 2011. Furthermore, the development of sustainable coffee farming practices was also identified as a priority following the Río Loco/Guánica Bay Watershed (RLGBW) Restoration Project and watershed plan led by the US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF). The rationale behind this was to promote shade coffee farming as a practice that integrates various methods to achieve adequate and sustainable coffee production levels, to sustain the socio-economic wellbeing of coffee farmers and to simultaneously help create a habitat for biodiversity and wildlife conservation.
The initiative was instigated by Protectores de Cuencas in March 2011. The first meeting's objective was to introduce the initiative and get feedback from various interested partners and local stakeholders. The past and current participating partners include: the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), US Forest Service (USFS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado Campus (UPR-Utuado), Experiment Station Agricultural Extension Service of University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPR-Mayagüez), the Municipality of Yauco, the non-profit organizations of Cafiesencia, Inc., Ridge to Reefs, Inc., Envirosurvey, Inc., Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje, Casa Pueblo, Protectores de Cuencas, Inc., and independent farmers.
This report provides a description of the Rio Loco/Guanica Bay Watershed, the criteria developed for the shade coffee growing certification process, and the progress achieved in the process so far.
Citation: Viqueira Rios, Roberto A. (2015). Progress Report: Shade Coffee Roundtable Initiative in the Río Loco/Guánica Bay Watershed. Prepared for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Conservation Program. Protectores de Cuencas, Inc., Yauco, Puerto Rico. 19 p.