Free trees give Costa Rican coffee farmers a double shot
By World Tree
By World Tree
Victoria – Costa Rican coffee farmers are planting 10,000 free trees as part of an initiative to tackle climate change launched by Canadian company World Tree. The specially selected Empress Splendor trees provide much-needed shade for their organically grown coffee and a new revenue stream for the farmers.
World Tree CEO Wendy Burton with a 6-World Tree chose the Empress Splendor for planting because it is the fastest growing tree in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Within just six months, the trees will grow 10 feet or more, providing critical protection for the coffee plants which need shade for optimal growth.
The main export from Costa Rica is coffee. “Farmers are struggling because coffee prices are low,” explains Wendy Burton, CEO of World Tree. “Our trees grow so fast they can be harvested for lumber within 10 years, providing them with a second revenue stream as well as shade for their coffee.”
Shade-grown coffee plants are twice as productive as sun-grown and consistently yield higher prices for their higher quality beans. The Empress trees not only protect the coffee, their deep root systems brings nutrients and water to the surface of the soil to feed the coffee plants.
“I’ve heard that Empress Splendor has many benefits for the environment and for us as coffee growers,” says Mauro Solis, a farmer participating in the program. “The carbon capture is important for our sustainability, and we are also very happy to get the benefit of extra income in 10 years.”
The project is backed by Canadian investors who want to offset their carbon footprint. The exceptional growth rate and large leaves of the trees makes them carbon sponges, absorbing 11 times more carbon than any other tree. When the trees are harvested they re-grow from the stump continuing the cycle of carbon sequestration.
“These trees are amazing,” says Burton. “They are not genetically modified, they are non-invasive and respond well to the organic farming methods used in Costa Rica.”
The coffee farmers have embraced the program, which has received the support of Juan Luis Chaves, the major of Naranjo, one of the most important coffee growing regions in Costa Rica. They have also been planted by Coopedota, known by coffee lovers worldwide for their Dota coffee.
“I am happy to think not only about the benefit that I can experience here on my farm, but also the bigger benefit, the change that we can do for the world,” remarks Solis.
World Tree () has been promoting the properties of the Empress Tree since 2002 and launched their Carbon Offset Program in 2015. This year they have planted over 50,000 trees with farmers in the United States, Canada and Costa Rica which will offset over two million tons of carbon over the next 50 years. They are expanding their program next year to plant more than 300,000 trees and are currently looking for more farmers to join their free tree program.