Conservation Principles for Coffee Production
Excerpt from the NW Shade Coffee Campaign membership guidelines.
Coffee-producing regions, with their tropical climates, often
play host to a diversity of wildlife whose habitatss are destroyed
when vast areas of tropical forest are cleared for coffee plantations.
Such coffee-growing practices also make for a low-quality product
and exacerbate global over-production, thereby threatening the
capacity of small-scale farmers to continue their more environmentally
friendly and high quality shade-growing practices. The sustainable
coffee movement seeks to "create alternative market opportunities
that pay farmers decent prices, provide incentives for organic
production, and reward farmers for practicing good stewardship
of their natural resources."
The Nature of Birds: To a Bird, Habitat Is Everything
Senturia, Master Birder
Habitat is the key to wildlife. Birds, in particular, are so sensitive
to the attributes of the habitats in which they live that they
are often used as indicators of the health of these habitats. Throughout
every bird’s life cycle, it must find the habitats it requires
in order to survive. These requirements may change with the seasons
or with the life stages of the bird. But the basic activities of
feeding, courtship, breeding, nesting, and protection from predators
and harsh environments are all imperatives for species' survival.
Most terrestrial habits consist of specific plant species arrayed
in a particular configuration.
A bird may feed on or nest in a specific plant species; such birds
arc specialists. For instance, Sage Grouse must have intact sagebrush
to survive. Red Crossbsills have a strong predilection for the
cones of specific conifers. Specialist species are vulnerable to
the slightest changes in habitat. More adaptable species, whether
seedeaters or insectivores, may be able to acquire adequate food
from multiple plant species. American Goldfinches are primarily
seedeaters and feed on a variety of species of thistles and sunflowers.
Moving along the "adaptability continuum," we come to
species such as the American Crow, decidedly a generalist. Crows
use a broad range of habitats and adapt well over time to changes
in environment. They will eat just about anything, as we know from
seeing them visit the trash bins at fast-food restaurants.
Another critical factor for birds is how the plants in a habitat
are arrayed, i.e., what structure the habitat provides. Many of
our Western Washington habitats have three major layers: a canopy
formed by the upper branches of trees, a shrub layer under the
canopy, and a ground-level layer (grasses, herbs). If we watch
a Spotted Towhee for any length of time, we know that regardless
of the surrounding plant species, this bird will often be foraging
in the debris on the ground. Wilson’s Warblers prefer the
shrub layer, and Hammond’s Flycathers hawk insects from the
Habitat structure is extremely important in all of a bird's activities.
When building a nest, a bird looks for specific structural elements--
perhaps a particular tuft of bunchgrasses, a forked branch at a
particular height, a low dense thicket, or an abandoned cavity
in a large tree. Various habitat structures provide shade, protection,
or camouflage. Brush piles and snags are vital for some species.
If birds are to flourish, their habitat needs must he met at each
phase of their lives and in each season. (Many species have different
habitat requirements in summer and winter.) the stewardship implications
for migratory birds' habitats are especially complex.
Habitats are dependent on many interrelated environmental factors:
temperature, rainfall, soils, air quality, etc. These may, in turn,
be altered both by human activity and natural occurrences (e.g.,
hurricanes). Such changes will affect both the structure and composition
of many, if not all, of our planet's habitats. The degree of climate
change and the speed with which it occurs will be important factors
in determining which of our feathered friends will brighten the 1ives
of our future generations.
Digi-ya-discover Digiscoping yet?
by Justine Busse, Nature Shop staff & Master
We birders are a well prepared bunch. We venture into the wilds
scouting for birds prepared for anything. We are usually sporting
several layers of clothing that can he easily adjusted for weather
conditions. Our rain gear, binoculars, scopes, tripods, field guides,
maps, checklists, notepads, runproof writing devices, lunches,
and sunglasses are just part of the equipment list. We often enjoy
toting our cameras along with all the "extra" options
needed to get that perfect shot. Our poor bodies withstand straps
and layers of clothing and gadgets, and our backs, hauling these
things, often complain loudly. How many times have you considered
leaving something, anything, behind in the car just to get a break?
The scope? The camera? The lunch?
These choices are difficult. However, there is a new way to help
consolidate some of these loads and make them at least a little
more multi-purpose, digiscoping.
Digiscoping is a marriage between scope and camera. It allows
the scope to be used as a powerful lens for your digital camera.
And like marriage, it requires patience, understanding, and determination
to make it work. Digiscoping is a fairly new concept and is quickly
becoming popular among birders. At last there is a way to team
up your light compact digital camera with a powerful lens and not
only view, but photograph birds that may be hundreds of yards away.
Once you have done your homework and chosen the right equipment
combination, it gets comes down to point-and-shoot. It is that
Selecting your equipment carefully is your first challenge. You
may have a scope and need a camera. In this case, you would need
to find a small digital camera that is not more than 4x power.
More powerful cameras run into issues with vignetting (a fuzzy
frame around the image in varying sizes depending on the optical
combination being used). A sug-gestion would be to take your scope
along on your camera shopping trip. Actually try out the camera
with the scope by simply holding it up to the eye piece and viewing
the composition of the photo on the screen. Here is a small tip
about camera features for digiscoping'-choose a camera with a big
LCD screen with back lighting so that you can easily view it in
the field under bright conditions.
Perhaps you already have both a camera and a scope and would like
to find an adapter to hold the camera in place. There are many
options or few options depending on your particular situation.
Remember the patience part of the marriage? Many of the top-brand
scope companies are now offering attachments that will connect
your camera to the scope. The variable here is whether your camera
will work with your scope (see vignetting above). Swarovski has
a very slick attachment called the Base DCB-A, which, when affixed
to your scope, allows you to flip your camera out of the way making
the transition between photography and straight viewing so easy
that you hardly know you have extra equipment. Swarovski also offers
the less complex DCA adapter at half the price as well as attachments
for older scopes.
Other options include a Universal Digiscoping Adapter made by
Vortex that comes in small and large sizes for different size eyepieces.
It attaches easily to the eyepiece and can slide out of the way
for regular viewing. For $50-60 these are great and inexpensive
solutions for those who have already both scope and camera and
want to hook the two together.
Nikon now offers the Digiscope 8.1 Photo Package. This will fit
existing Nikon Fieldscopes, 50mm, 60mm or 82mm. The kit includes
a Coolpix P4 8.1 digital camera, a specific, fixed, digiscoping
wide eyepiece (16x/24x/30x depending on objective lens size) and
a bracket and cable release to minimize vibration. The package
retails for $730.00 at the Nature Shop, or can be combined with
your purchase of a Nikon Fieldscope. It all fits easily together
and is very easy to use. This is a nice option for those Nikon
Fieldscope owners who do not have a camera and want to digiscope.
There are many online resources about digiscoping as well. One
favorite is at www.swarovskioptik.com. Click on digiscoping for
a nice run-through of basics as well as tips and tricks.
Bear in mind that technology is fast paced and cameras and kit
options may change during the year. Also remember that the adapters
and kits mentioned are mostly designed for point-and-shoot digital
cameras, although SLR cameras work on some. (An alternative for
SLR cameras, of course, is a separate optical element replacing
both the camera's lens and the scope's eyepiece - come by the Nature
Shop to see this option.)
The Nature Shop offers many options and is trying to keep pace
with emerging technology. For more information go to www.seattleaudubon.orgs
(click on Nature Shop), or stop by The Nature Shop 10am to 5pm,
Monday through Saturday to try out a digiscoping set up to see
for yourself the fun that can be had and how this innovative technological
combination can turn you into a photographic wizard.
Through the Eyes of a Farmer
Reyna Maria Gutierrez,
An Equal Exchange Co-op Partner
Maria Gutierrez, her child, and her aging mother are one of the
68 families growing organic coffee on the mountaintop community
of Ampante, Nicaragua. For her, maintaining an integrated ecosystem
of coffee, banana, and nitrogen-fixing guabo trees is not just
for the birds. It's a way of life that depends on receiving a just
price and the support of her co-op through fair trade.
Fair trade provides a basket of benefits
to Reyna and her neighbors. Gender equity seminars provided by
her cooperative opened the door for Reyna to become a leader. She
is now both a member of the Board of Directors of her local cooperative
and a regular participant in the annual Women's Leadership Conference.
Fair trade premiums fund organic farming
seminars, which have allowed her colleagues to boost productivity
while increasing erosion protection and bird habitat. Advance credit
(the true mark of a fair trade organization) provides Reyna and
her neighbors with the capital to invest in tree nurseries and
compost bins. A guaranteed minimum price and direct access to the
market have chased away predatory intermediary buyers.
If farming does not work for families, families
will leave farming to the corporations, and corporations will leave
nothing behind. Reyna and her colleagues need a fair price, direct
trade through their democratic co-ops, advance credit, and price
premiums to allow them to grow in a way that is both environmentally
and economically sustainable.
Shade vs. Organic
Organic agriculture is a farming management system that promotes
and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological
activity. lt is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs (such as
fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides) and on management practices
that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony. Organically
grown coffee reduces the threat to the health of coffee growers
and workers since it eliminates pesticide poisoning of people and
animals and keeps fertilizers out of the ground water. Not all
organic coffee is shade-grown, though most is, and not all shade
coffee is organically grown, although it usually uses significantly
fewer chemicals than sun coffee.The best coffee from the point
of the view of the environment is shade-grown, organic, AND fair-traded.