Preserving Ethiopia’s Coffee and Forests for a Sustainable Future


THE University of Huddersfield is helping rural communities make a sustainable living while preserving the source of the something that keeps the world going on a daily basis – coffee.

Ethiopia is the only place in the world where coffee grows wild, protected by the canopy of the mountain forests of a region close to the border with South Sudan. Think of Ethiopia, and many people will assume it to be an arid, dry landscape, recalled from the images of the devastating famine in 1984. But that is far from the case everywhere, and the Bench-Sheko zone in the south west of the country is a lush, green area with altitudes of between 1,500m and 2,000m and around two metres of rainfall per year.

Originating here, the coffee plant was first spread outside Africa by Arab traders, leading to the name of arabica coffee. Ethiopia’s wild forest coffee plants are a gene bank for the world, but also provide a valuable income for local farmers.

However, with deforestation and land degradation threatening livelihoods and coffee’s origins, the University’s Professor Adrian Wood and colleagues have designed a long-term project to improve prospects for the future via a sustainable development initiative.

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Image via University of Huddersfield