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The East African : Mar 9th 2015
The EastAfrican 36 OUTLOOK MARCH 7-13,2015 D E VE LO PME N T China bans impo≥t of ivo≥y ca≥vings By DAN LEVIN New York Times News Service IN A move aimed at countering international criticism of the skyrocketing Chinese demand for ivory that is decimating African elephant populations, China has announced a one-year moratorium on the import of ivory carvings. The State Forestry Administra- tion, which oversees China’s wildlife trade, published a notice of the temporary ban on its website. But international conservation EA AFFECTED Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Studies show that climate change is likely to impact on the yields and taste of coffee beans in future decades. Picture: File Arabica coffee under threat from climate change: Report Fa≥me≥s say that they a≥e al≥eady su≠e≥ing f≥om the influences of inc≥eased global wa≥ming By PAUL REDFERN Special Correspondent A rabica coffee production across Ethiopia, South Su- dan and Kenya is under threat from climate change and could cease completely by 2080, according to a new report from scientists based at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew in the UK. Coffee is the world’s favour- ite beverage and the secondmost traded commodity after oil. In 2009/10, coffee accounted for exports worth an estimated $15.4 billion worldwide, when some 93.4 million bags were shipped, with total employment in the coffee sector estimated at about 26 million people in 52 producing countries. However, the productivity (green bean yield) of Arabica is tightly linked to climate change. The Kew report notes that the optimum mean annual temperature range for Arabica is 18-21°C, or up to 24°C. At temperatures above 23°C, development and ripening of fruits are accelerated, often leading to the loss of beverage quality. The report says that evi- dence from coffee farmers, from numerous coffee-grow- ing regions around the world, shows that they are already suffering from the influence of increased global warming, although it acknowledges that precise modelling of this influence for either Arabica or robusta coffee is limited. The study centred around populations of wild indigenous coffee in Ethiopia, southeastern Sudan and Kenya. Wild Arabica It said that the largest and most diverse populations of indigenous (wild) Arabica occur in the highlands of southwestern Ethiopia, in southeastern South Sudan (Boma Plateau) and northern Kenya (Mt Marsabit), at altitudes of between 950 metres and 1,950 metres, although 1,200 metres is the most frequent lower altitude limit The report said that its mod- elling shows a profoundly negative trend for the future distribution of indigenous Arabica coffee under the influence of accelerated global climate change. It predicts that unless ad- dressed, “The most favourable outcome would be a 65 per cent reduction in the number of bioclimatically suitable localities, and at worst an almost 100 per cent reduction by the year 2080.” The report adds that even if new localities for Arabica were recorded. “These are likely to represent a small proportion of those already known, based on the few remaining suitable areas for which we do not have occurrence records,” it reads. The scientists also point out that Arabica has a relatively long generation time: Even in cultivation, it requires a minimum of three to four years to produce fruit and at least five to eight years to reach maximum reproductive potential. The scientists say that cof- fee beans are also likely to suffer from increasing numbers of pests and diseases as temperatures rise. Arabica coffee and robusta The worst case scenario is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080.” Justin Moat, a scientists and one of the Kew report’s authors coffee are the two main species used in the production of coffee, although the former is by far the most significant, providing approximately 70 per cent of commercial production. The report adds that although commercial growers could still grow their own crops by watering and artificially cooling them, the wild type has much greater genetic diversity, which is essential to help plantations overcome threats like pests and disease. Justin Moat, one of the re- port’s authors, said: “The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to The largest and most diverse populations of indigenous (wild) Arabica occur in the highlands of southwestern Ethiopia, in southeastern South Sudan (Boma Plateau) and northern Kenya (Mt Marsabit). They occur at altitudes of between 950 metres and 1,950 metres, although 1,200 metres is the most frequent lower altitude limit. The wild type has much greater genetic diversity, which is essential to help plantations overcome threats like pests and disease. the fragility of the species.” The new study, published in the Public Library of Science ONE journal, used computer modelling to predict the survival prospects of Arabica coffee for the first time, based on three different climate change scenarios. Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, said: “Arabica can only exist in a very specific place with a very specific number of other variables. It is mainly temperature but also the relationship between temperature and seasonality — the average temperature during the wet season, for example.” The researchers, however, said their estimates were “conservative” because they did not take into account the widespread deforestation taking place in the highland forests where the beans are grown, or other factors such as a drop in the number of birds who spread seeds. Even if the beans do not dis- appear completely from the wild, climate change is highly likely to impact on yields and the taste of coffee beans in future decades, they added. Ivory seized in Kenya is burnt at the Nairobi National Park on March 3. Picture: AFP organisations said the moratorium would do little to slow the surge in poaching that has killed 100,000 African elephants in three years, according to reports. Because the temporary ban prohibits only the import of ivory carvings, it does not affect China’s legal domestic ivory trade, which has prompted an increase in the price of ivory and provides legal camouflage for a booming trade in illicit ivory smuggled into China’s licensed carving factories and stores. “It’s just window dressing,” said Shruti Suresh, a campaigner with the independent Environmental Investigation Agency, based in London. International wildlife groups have long accused Beijing of deliberately ignoring China’s prime role in the illegal ivory trade, which has soared since officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), permitted China to buy 68 tonnes of African ivory in 2008. “Every metric on the ivory trade has exploded upwards in recent years,” said the organisation Save the Elephants. The Chinese government has sponsored awareness campaigns highlighting the perils facing elephants, and officials destroyed six tonnes of illegal ivory last year. Still, many Chinese cling to a traditional fondness for ivory, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is given as gifts in the form of jewellery and carved sculptures.
Mar 1st 2015
Mar 16th 2015