History

Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF) is a local, non-political, non-religious and not-for profit civil society organization, first licensed and registered in 2005 and re-registered in 2009 and 2019 in accordance the relevant laws (Registration Number 0378).

ECFF has over 15 years of experiences in partnership and implementation of multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholders research and development projects. ECFF started its work in partnership with the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn in 2005, on a joint project entitled “Conservation and Use of the Wild Populations of Coffea arabica in the Montane Rainforests of Ethiopia, CoCE”, where we have explored the forest biodiversity and coffee genetic diversity of wild coffee the forests of southwest and southeast Ethiopia, functional diversity of wild coffee genetic resources in diseases and drought tolerance, the economic values of the coffee forests and coffee genetic resources, and the institutional and policy frameworks for sustainable conservation and uses of these resources through integrated landscape management. This effort has led and guided the designation of the Yayu Coffee Forest as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by 2010, the nomination process of which ECFF has facilitated between 2006 and 2009.

Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere Reserve

ECFF has implemented over 15 different project at Yayu Coffee Forest and the surroundings so far. The major achievements of ECFF include developing forest and coffee reserve management system, research on increasing biomass productivity, promoting ecosystem management and building capacity for climate resilient coffee economy, while testing climate finance mechanism. ECFF has undertaken extensive research works on coffee forests, climate change and livelihoods, and introduced and promoted the UNESCO biosphere reserve as an integrated approach to sustainably manage multifunctional forested landscape, while integrating biodiversity conservation.

Understanding that land use change is not the only threat on coffee and the forests, ECFF has partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, NCRC and the Oxford Univerity to explore the impacts of climate change and land use changes, and develop strategies for mitigation and resilience. We were able to predict how climate change affects coffee, and develop strategies, including management practices at farm level and assisted migration pathways to a more suitable areas in the future. In the process, we have built the biggest geospatial database of coffee in Ethiopia and jointly produced the Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia maps the coffee landscape of Ethiopia, showing where coffee is (could be) farmed, and the location of wild Arabica coffee forests. It is an essential resource for those interested in coffees of different origins in Ethiopia.

ECFF has also strengthened farmers’ cooperatives and cooperative unions in coffee growing areas and beyond. We have started with five cooperatives in Yayu Coffee Forest, and expanded to over 30 coffee producers and 15 honey producers’ copperatives in the area. ECFF has built the capacities of producers in improving coffee quality through improved processing and strorage, and linked them with direct buyers. Specifically, we have supported the cooperative to improve the quality of coffee (sun-dried processing menthod), and honey through introduction of modern beehives and processing machine. We have also helped the cooperatives to join the Sor-Geba Cooperative Union, and built the capacity of the Union to start coffee export business. Through our DFID and Darwin Initiative financed projects with the Royal Botanic Gardens/Kew, we have linked the union with coffee importer in UK. We have also helped them getting Rainforest Alliance certificate. The Sor-Geba Union is exporting premium coffee to Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in UK since 2015. Our joint project (Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and climate resilience at Yayu Biosphere Reserve”) won the 2019 Speciality Association of America Sustainability Award.  Further, ECFF has built the capacities of 12 cooperative unions in Oromia and 4 cooperative unions in Tigray, including preparation of manuals and guidelines for capacity building. Each union has over 50 member cooperatives. Our capacity building work focused on union level and selected 4 cooperatives per union as pilots. This project was implemented in collaboration with the Agricultural Transformation Agency and Federal as well as regional Cooperatives Promotion Agencies.

ECFF has conducted a number of action research works on agricultural crops diversification, including fruits and vegetables that can be integrated into biodiversity rich forested landscapes like Yayu Coffee Forest, with the aim of producing nutrient rich food for market and household level consumption by the smallholder farmers in Yayu area. Many new vegetables were introduced, and were well accepted by the local communities and were also approved by the national research system to be widely used in agricultural developmet extension works. Along with this, ECFF has contributed to restoration of degarded forest areas through trees and coffee planting, contributing to the climate smart agricultural practices.