Are you someone who can’t go through the day without your coffee fix? Here is a piece of bad news, a lot of wild coffee species are in danger of extinction. This is due to deforestation and climate change that are pushing them to the brink of death.
According to the calculations of researchers at UK’s Kew Gardens. Out of 124 known wild coffee species, at least 60 percent are at risk of extinction. The details of the report were published in the Journal, Science Advances.
“We propose that wild coffee species are extinction sensitive, especially in an era of accelerated climatic change,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers followed the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to evaluate the coffee species with the latest computer modeling techniques.
Results revealed that there are about 75 coffee species at risk of extinction. Among those numbers, 13 species can be classified as critically endangered, 40 can be classified as endangered, and 22 can be classified vulnerable.
Additionally, the researchers claimed that 45% of these species are not held in any germplasm collection. Meaning, if they are lost we would not be able to replicate them. Meanwhile, 28% are not known to occur in any protected area.
The Dark Future of Arabica Coffee
If you like coffee, it is very impossible that you haven’t heard of Arabica. Majority of the coffee sales worldwide relies on two species: arabica (Coffea arabica) and robusta (C. canephora).
Arabica most importantly makes up to 60 to 70 percent of the global coffee market. However, it too has been classified as endangered as its sensitivity to climate change, threatens its existence. That is especially true for wild Arabica variants
“C. arabica has the most thorough extinction risk assessment of any coffee species, due to plentiful high-quality ground point data, rigorous ground truthing, and the inclusion of climate change projections,” researchers revealed. “This situation is particularly acute for Arabica coffee, given its climatic inflexibility and susceptibility to CLR and other diseases and pests.”
Importance of Wild Coffee Species
While not all of these coffee species are used for actual coffee production. They play a role in ensuring balance and diversity in coffee species.Thus, they are very critical for the sustainability of global coffee production.
In some regions, local wild coffee species are sometimes being used as a substitute for Arabica coffee. But they are not just a substitute. The researchers revealed that these species have “useful traits for coffee development, such as climatic tolerance and especially drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance, low or zero caffeine content and sensory (taste) amelioration.”
However, even with these gloomy facts, the researchers highlighted that people have poor knowledge about the extinction risk of coffee species.
Heck, the majority are even unaware that there are more than a hundred species of coffee. This is why its conservation is not given priority.
“Most consumers and even many coffee sector representatives are unaware that there are more than two or three coffee species,” the researchers said. “Ultimately, we need to conserve existing wild coffee species in situ to ensure the preservation of remaining genetic diversity.”