Enhancing carbon sequestration and improving livelihoods in Mexico's shade-grown coffee plantations

Exploring the role of smallholder coffee farms and native tree species in the future of climate change, through carbon sequestration and local livelihoods.

Coffee beans

The forests of the state of Veracruz fall within the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot and have been assessed as one of the centres of tree diversity of Mexico. One such ecosystem is the Tropical Montane Cloud Forests (TMCF). TMCFs cover less than 1% of Mexico’s national territory but are home to around 10% of the plant biodiversity within the country, including a high number of endemic species.

The livelihoods of most families, mainly in the central region of the State of Veracruz, depend on coffee production, which is vital to the local economy. Climate change is already altering the cultivation conditions, and 50% of the cloud forest area of Mexico has already been transformed by human activities such as urbanization and deforestation for agriculture. For these reasons, the capacity of the cloud forest to support the livelihoods of local communities, including coffee production, has been reduced. This reduction is due to a lower capacity of the forest to mitigate climate change by removing carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Therefore, it is important to find innovative ways to mitigate climate change. Enriching shade-grown coffee plantations with native trees that have a high capacity for carbon sequestration, are useful for local communities, contributes to mitigating the effects of climate change and, at the same time, strengthens local livelihoods.

This project aims to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers’ plantations to mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity, and improve their livelihoods through the enhancement of tree diversity and their ecosystem services in shade-grown coffee plantations in the TMCF in Veracruz, Mexico.

  • Presentation of project results and methodology in a participatory workshop with coffee producers
  • A Handbook on Using Native Trees to Enhance Carbon Sequestration in Shade-grown Coffee Plantations
  • Analysis Report on the selection of 25 Tree Native Species preferred by smallholder farmers.  
  • A Climate Resilience Evaluation on 7 Selected Tree Native Species. 
  • Assessment on the Potential of Carbon Capture for 5 Tree Species 
  • A Methodology for the selection and agroecological management of native tree species to enhance carbon sequestration (mitigation of climate change) in the production of shade-grown coffee. 

Dr Tiziana Ulian

Michael Way

Project Coordinator
Dr Maraeva Gianella

Project Officer
Elizabeth Bell

Research Assistant
Silvia Bacci

Other Kew team members
William Milliken
Efisio Mattana

Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Principal investigator in Mexico
Dr Patricia Dávila Aranda

Dr Isela Rodríguez Arévalo

Dr César Mateo Flores Ortiz

Other team members:
Dr. Alejandra Salguero Velázquez
Lilia García Rojas
Martín López Carrera
Dr. Salvador Sampayo Maldonado
Dr. Daniel Cabrera Santos
Josefina Vázquez Medrano
Anabel Ruiz Flores
Laura Campos Arias
Ivan Plascencia Rosiles
Alejandra Velázquez Maulón
Juliana Álvarez Lara
Alvaro Casa Madrid Cerón
Jessica Snell Cordero
Armando Ponce Vargas

Pronatura Veracruz

Implementation supervisor and Director
Elisa Peresbarbosa Rojas

Project Coordinator
Angela Viviana Rojas Rojas

Coordinadora Programa de Cafetales y Biodiversidad
Dr Jazmín Cobos Silva

Other team members
Miryam Araceli García Álvarez
Flor G. Vázquez Corzas
José Luis Ramírez Morales
Yumei Cabrera Carrasco
Lucero García Miranda
Virgilio Hernandez Vidal
Alejandro Martínez González
Ana Gabriela Zamora Martínez
Roberto Aburto Muñoz
Alejandro Guerrero Lara
Diego Alberto Ávila Ruiz
Gabriela Martínez

UK PACT Mexico
• John and Catherine Emberson