Eco-friendly coffee could save El Salvador’s dwindling wildlife

Environmental groups are working to help El Salvador’s coffee farmers achieve green certification so that they can survive in a volatile worldwide market — and the wildlife that finds refuge on their farms can survive as well. The country’s native ecosystems have been almost entirely wiped out, and its once-prodigious wildlife now finds safe haven among the tall shade trees planted to protect coffee shrubs from harsh sunlight. It’s also coffee farms that are “protecting the watersheds, that are buffering and extending the few parks, and that are conserving the soils,” says Chris Wille of the Rainforest Alliance. Coffee farms now cover some 10 to 15 percent of the country, but the vicissitudes of the coffee market mean that many are being sold to developers and cattle ranchers. Certified “green” coffee (there are a number of different certifications) tends to hold its value through market fluctuations. So next time you’re picking up a latte, pay attention.