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Global warming puts Wild Arabica coffee plants at risk

Arabica coffee beans may be hard to come by.

Crucial stock of genetic diversity could be lost to climate change

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Coffee drinkers shouldn’t their favorite beverage for granted, according to researchers with London’s Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Global warming could lead to the extinction of wild Arabica coffee plants well before the end of the century.

The study shows that climate change will cut Arabica habitat between 65 and 99 percent, even without factoring in the large-scale deforestation that has occurred in the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan (the natural home of Arabica coffee).

The scientists also identified core habitat areas that could be used as preserves to try and maintain a population of Arabica coffee plants.

Wild Arabica is important to the entire coffee industry as a stock of genetic diversity. The plants are very sensitive to temperature and moisture in very localized microclimates, and coffee harvests have already suffered in recent years, with coffee prices soaring to their highest level in 30 years.

The Arabicas grown in the world’s coffee plantations are from very limited genetic stock and are unlikely to have the flexibility required to cope with climate change and other threats, such as pests and diseases. Continue reading

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