The role of traditional coffee management in forest conservation and carbon storage in the Jimma Highlands, Ethiopia

Dereje Deny, Philip John Platts, Ensermu Kelbessa, Tadesse Woldemariam Gole, Robert Marchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethiopia has lost 90% of its forest extent. Remnant patches in the southwest are often semi-forest coffee (SFC), a system whereby coffee is managed beneath the canopy. Here, we (1) quantify aboveground live carbon (AGC) stored by trees in SFC and other land use types in the Jimma Highlands; and (2) determine coffee farmers’ preference for canopy shade trees, and the resulting differences in carbon storage. We surveyed twenty coffee farmers and assessed thirty-one 1-ha vegetation plots across a 23.6-km transect. The most preferred shade species were Albizia gummifera, Acacia abyssinica, Millettia ferruginea and Cordia africana, which together accounted for 42% AGC in SFC and 12% in natural forests. These species had broad size class distributions, while the least preferred had scant representation in lower size classes. SFC stores significantly more AGC (61.5 ± 25.0 t ha−1, mean ± SE) than woodland, pasture and cropland, significantly less than plantation and slightly less than natural forest (82.0 ± 32.1 t ha−1). If SFC was converted to cropland, then 59.5 t ha−1 would be released, at a social cost of US$2892–4225 ha−1. Carbon-payment schemes (e.g. REDD+) may, therefore, play a role in conserving these forests and associated biodiversity and livelihoods into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalForests, Trees and Livelihoods
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 the author(s).

Cite this