A study conducted by researchers at the Royal Botanic Garden of Kew in the United Kingdom has estimated that of the 124 species of coffee known to science, almost 60% are at risk of extinction.
Once again, human beings demonstrate their unlimited capacity for the destruction of species, plants and ecosystems. Coffee, that substance without which millions of people do not conceive to wake up every morning, could have their days counted if they do not take extreme measures to preserve their conservation. 6 out of 10 known coffee species are at risk of disappearing due to the lethal combination of climate change, diseases and deforestation. If we talk about wild species, more than 71% of them are threatened.
“In general, the fact that the risk of extinction in all coffee species was so high, almost 60 percent, is well above the normal extinction risk for plants,” said the lead author, Aaron Davis, head of coffee and resource research at Kew, told AFP.
In total, the team has estimated that some 75 species of coffee are in danger of extinction. In more detail, 13 species have been classified as critically endangered, 40 as endangered and 22 as vulnerable.
At this time, the world has only two species to obtain its dose of caffeine: arabica (Coffea arabica) and robusta (C. canephora), both cultivated for hundreds of years. However, all species are key, because genetic diversity is a crucial ingredient for continued existence.
Even Arabica itself, harvested for millennia in Ethiopia and South Sudan – and accounting for 60 to 70% of all coffee sales worldwide – has also been listed as endangered by deforestation and climate change , as well as drought and diseases that affect the natural habitat of coffee beans. The usual remedy to strengthen crops was to use wild relatives of the species.
“Many protected areas fail to conserve diversity within their borders, and viable management plans would be required to ensure that the target species are effectively conserved,” the authors note, whose study has been published in Science Advances. Not everything is lost: the researchers say that there is an opportunity to solve the problem by guaranteeing the genetic diversity of coffee and expanding and protecting the natural habitat of the plant.