The coffee plants, the source of the hot brown elixir that feeds millions of people around the world using the magic of caffeine, are, they say, at risk of extinction.
A study conducted by researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens of the United Kingdom indicates that at least 60 percent of all 124 coffee species are threatened with annihilation from climate change and deforestation. Their findings were published this month in Science Advances and Global Change Biology.
The coffee industry is dominated by the Arabica and Robusta species and depends on the agriculture of wild coffee cultivations. Both types of plants, however, are now on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as an endangered species, classified as "high risk of extinction in the wild". The team of researchers has decided to control all 124 species of wild coffee against this criterion for this Red List, and believe that at least one in six has been threatened with extinction.
Which is not good news for those of us who rely on things for our morning, afternoon and evening picnics. The good news, if you can say so, is that we are talking about climate change over many decades, around 2080, that most of us will not be around to testify anyway.
"This is the first time that an evaluation of the IUCN Red List has been carried out to find the risk of extinction of world coffee, and the results are worrying," said Eimear Nic Lughadha, head of research at the Department of Conservation of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
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"A 60 percent share of all endangered species of coffee is extremely high, especially if you compare this with a global estimate of 22 percent for plants. Some of the evaluated coffee species have not been seen in nature for more than 100 years, and it is possible that some may already be extinct. "
In particular for Ethiopia, where the wild plant of Arabica originates, the researchers mapped the effects of a changing climate in the African nation, and found that the Arabian population could decrease by 85% within the next 70 years.
"Among the endangered species of coffee are those that can be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those that are resistant to disease and can withstand worsening climatic conditions," said Aaron Davis, lead author of # 39; article published in Science Advances and head of coffee research at Kew.
"The use and development of wild coffee resources could be the key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector – targeted action is urgently needed in specific tropical countries, particularly in Africa, to protect future of coffee. "®