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Individual Highlight

Saving Tropical Forests for Migrant Birds

Photo of Forest Service research assistant Carlos Delgado holds a golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). These warblers breed in the U.S. and winter in Latin America. David King, USDA Forest ServiceForest Service research assistant Carlos Delgado holds a golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). These warblers breed in the U.S. and winter in Latin America. David King, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Most northeastern and midwestern songbirds migrate to spend the winter in the tropics, where much of their habitat is threatened by clearing and conversion to agriculture. Funding for conserving tropical forests is scarce, so developing market-based incentives to conserve habitat is key. Forest Service scientists have developed strategies and techniques such as solar-thermal coffee driers that eliminate the need for cutting firewood to dry coffee and integrated open canopy coffee farming that links higher yields to forest conservation.

Principal Investigators(s) :
King, David 
Research Location : Costa Rica and Honduras
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 494

Summary

Most songbirds in the Northeast and Midwest migrate to the tropics during the winter. Much of the tropical forest that supports them during this period is under threat. Although parks and preserves have been established, many continue to be degraded despite statutory protection. New ways to link commercial activity to forest conservation are key to conserving the remaining tropical forest and restoring areas that have been cleared. In collaboration with coffee cooperatives, international NGOs, and government agencies, Forest Service scientists are developing and promoting these initiatives. A hybrid coffee drying system that uses solar-thermal energy, fuel oil produced from a native perennial tree (Jatropha curcas), and fuel pellets made from coffee parchment eliminates the use of fuel wood for coffee drying, which currently consumes the equivalent of 16,000 acres of forest annually. In addition, coffee and jatropha are grown using integrated open canopy systems, which conserve bird species that don't use shade coffee and produces higher coffee yields. Currently, they are developing certification schemes for CO2 sequestration for small-scale landowners that will increase incentives for conserving forest with integrated open canopy. These alternative coffee-processing and production systems increase income to farmers, offering a market-based solution to conserving tropical forests for migrant birds and people alike.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Greg Butcher, Migratory Species Coordinator, International Programs
  • Maira Manzanares, Cooperative COMISUYL, Subiriana, Honduras
  • Raul Raudales &Rich Trubey,Mesoamerican Development Institute, Lowell, MA
  • Richard Chandler, University of Georgia, Athens

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