Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and climate resilience at Yayu Biosphere Reserve (Ethiopia)

Preserving biodiversity and improving livelihoods through the development of high quality coffee and climate resilient farming practices.

Coffee farmers looking at coffee beans

Yayu Reserve covers 167,000 hectares and is home to around 450 higher plants, 50 mammal, 200 bird, and 20 amphibian species.

It is also an important storehouse of wild crop genetic resources, most notably for Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica).

Coffee farming occurs within the forests of the buffer zone and transition areas of the reserve, and generates up to 70% of the cash income for over 90% of the local population.

However, most farmers in the area are struggling to make sufficient income from coffee, which can cause a conversion away from forest-based coffee production to non-forest crops.

This leads to forest loss, a reduction in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a narrowing of income diversity. The most important factors restricting coffee income at Yayu are coffee quality and access to the export market.

Kew is responsible for the organisation and day-to-day management of the project, science activities, and monitoring and evaluation. Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF) are the in-country project partners, undertaking management of the project in Ethiopia, and collaboration across the science activities.

The London-based coffee company Union Hand-Roasted Coffee (UHRC), in partnership with HiU Coffee (El Salvador and Panama) are responsible for providing training in coffee harvesting, post-harvest processing (including the installation equipment), cup evaluation and export logistics.

These activities take place across all five Yayu coffee cooperatives, with 950 members (about 5,000 household members).

UHRC provides access to export market for Yayu cooperatives, via direct-trade coffee purchasing, and (with HiU Coffee) assessment of coffee quality and market value. A socio-economist employed by UHRC is responsible for social and economic evaluation and monitoring.


  • Increase the income from coffee for Yayu farmers, via improvements in quality and by providing access to market.
  • Reduce or stabilise land-use change, and particularly the conversion away from forest-based farming systems.
  • Preserve biodiversity through maintaining forest-based coffee farming systems.
  • Minimise farmer’s vulnerability to long-term climate change and climate perturbations.


Project Leader

Aaron P. Davis


Justin F. Moat

  • A 30% increase in income (coffee revenues) for Yayu cooperative members, including an increase in seasonal work (harvest and processing activities) for the community.
  • The production of a land-use change and forest conversion analyses, produced via satellite imagery and geographical information system (GIS) methods.
  • Studies understanding climate resilience for coffee farmers, via trial-farm experiments, environmental monitoring and cost-benefit analyses; summarised in scientific papers and local-language agronomy manuals.


  • Environment and Coffee Forest Forum
  • HiU Coffee


  • Union Hand-Roasted Coffee
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In partnership with 

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee logo