Text written by PRISCILA PINHO | How to measure the impact of centuries of coffee production on Brazil’s landscapes? Observing MINAS GERAIS landscape can be one of the indicators of the impact that extractive monoculture has generated and, unfortunately, continues to generate in Brazil. But some initiatives among producers have sought to break with old concepts of production and environmental preservation. This is the case of the group of farmers associated with Flor de Café. Since 2018, in partnership with researchers linked to the Federal University of Lavras, the Association has carried out environmental diagnostics on farms and sites in the Nepomuceno region, in the south of Minas, where its facilities are located. . These diagnoses consist, first of all, of the cataloging and identification of native trees on the properties, as well as the recovery of springs and observation of wild animals that live in the forests between coffee plantations.
According to the CCCMG (Coffee Trade Center of the State of Minas Gerais), coffee began to be produced in the State in 1707, and it was in 1985 that Minas Gerais conquered first place in the production of coffee in Brazil. The demand generated by increasing consumption has created an impact that the land will not be able to regenerate infinitely.
“Preserving is important to protect natural resources, such as water, which are essential for the survival of all living beings” says Taís Regina Lima Abreu Veiga, who is a forest engineer and coordinator of Flor de Café’s environmental recovery projects. For several years, with a team of agronomists and biologists, she has already cataloged 6 species of very rare trees and 2 at risk of extinction.
To catalog the species, a map of the forest areas that exist on each property is made. Some points are marked by GPS. And the professionals enter the forest to these random points. Once there, a quadrant is drawn and the species present there are identified and then cataloged. They begin by recording the geographic coordinates of all the trees found, as well as their phytosanitary data, height and diameter, so that the phytosociological parameters can be calculated, which concern the level of conservation, diversity and richness of the forest. All results are interpreted based on publications from the Ministry of the Environment, the State Forestry Institute of Minas Gerais and the Federal University of Lavras.
This catalog, which is emerging from Flor de Café forests, is a precious material that helps the maintenance of green areas in need of protection. Preserving the forest means continuing to generate resources and conditions for long-term production. An attempt to mitigate the effects of global warming, hoping climate change will cause less impact in these areas, with the microclimates preserved.
Preservation is included in Brazilian laws, such as the Forest Code (Law nº 12,727 of October 17, 2012) and the Law of Minas Gerais (Law nº 20,922 of October 16, 2013) that says about the obligation of each property to have an APP (area of permanent preservation) and their preservation.
The APP’s are areas within the properties that preserve water resources, landscape, soil, biodiversity, fauna and flora resources, guaranteeing wild and natural life around the plantations of each farm. Flor de Café is beyond these legislative conformities. One of the association’s goals is to reforest degraded areas with native trees in the south of Minas. The impact of restoring flora will be felt in the temperature of the region, in the volume of water, in the quantity of animals, in the quality of the soil, etc.It is not possible to envision a future without thinking about how the conditions of survival will be. What will be the average temperature in the summer, if we will have water, if we will be able to harvest the fruits or, even more urgent, if we will continue to have live Arabica coffee trees in Minas Gerais.
That’s where specialty coffee comes in, as a tool to transform lives and the environment. The impact of centuries of extractivism makes us face changes. The alternative is to learn from nature the balance that exists in the forests. Rethinking the way we produce food and our place as protagonists in this revolution. A healthy environment means healthy people. And you also notice it in your coffee cup.
This text was written by Priscila Pinho | Founder of Coffee Break Pri