World Wildlife Day is a time for coffee professionals to make a difference
I travel a lot ”like, a lot a lot ”and some trips stand out more than others. And a handful of my journeys have been experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life. One such odyssey was traveling through Sumatra last May with 50 international barista champions on a spectacular adventure organized by Dalla Corte Espresso Systems.
The trip was intense because Indonesia is intense. We landed in Medan and spent a couple of nights getting our bearings at a fancy hotel, but then we headed out to no man’s land. We were in the jungle ”for real. The first half of the two-week trip was dedicated to seeing wildlife ”orangutans specifically. You see, Dalla Corte has made it a company mission to combat the palm oil industry that is desimating the already dwindling numbers of orangutans in the wilds of Sumatra. Dalla Corte is doing this through the Orangutan Coffee Project, which pays specialty-coffee producers a premium for cherry grown on wild, organically farmed lands. In such a fragile economy, many of the producers in Sumatra have turned some or all of their coffee lands into palm oil plantations. Palm trees grow fast and produce a lot. But they rape the natural ecosystems and heat up the already warm climes. What many people don’t know, too, is that palm trees only produce three or four times, and then they die, at which point they have sucked so many nutrients from the soil that it won’t be farm-able for palm trees, coffee, or anything, for at least a decade.
It’s also not livable for orangutans, whose population is so small that they’ve long been on the extremely endangered list.
Dalla Corte partnered with an amazing organization in Sumatra called PanEco, the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Intercultural Exchange, which was founded in Switzerland in 1996 as an international non-profit organisation. The foundation’s roots go back to the 1970s, when Swiss biologist Regina Frey went to Sumatra to reintroduce illegally captured and subsequently confiscated orangutans back into protected rainforests. Until today, PanEco’s work focuses on protecting tropical rainforests, the rapidly disappearing habitat of Sumatran orangutans. Moreover, the foundation engages in environmental education and organic farming.
All of PanEco’s activities are inspired by the principle of œprotect and use : partnerships with commercial projects generate income, which cross-finances non-profit programmes. In this context, study tours are offered, including visits to the Orang Utan Coffee Project.
Obviously, I’ve become pretty passionate about the Sumatran orangutans, but we as coffee professionals have access to and therefore a responsibility for an amazing array of animals and wildlife that live in coffee-growing regions around the world.
Today is World Wildlife Day, and this year’s theme is “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” with the global campaign focusing specifically on African and Asian elephants. “It is the responsibility of each generation to safeguard wildlife for the following generation,” states the WWF. “It also imparts the pressing need for national action to ensure the survival in the wild of both charismatic and lesser known species.”
Happy World Wildlife Day, friends. Let’s celebrate with a renewed committed to the conservation and care of wild animals.