I have just returned from the launch of our new project in Ethiopia. It is called ECOLIMITS, and is funded by the Department for International Development (DFiD) and the Natural Environment Research Council, NERC under the ESPA (Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation) programme. The project examines the the interactions and thresholds of ecosystem services, poverty and human use of forest landscapes, looking at the cocoa producing landscapes of Ghana and the coffee landscapes of Ethiopia.
The project kick-off was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in Feb 2014, and was followed by a field visit to our research site in the Yayu Biosphere Reserve in SW Ethiopia, a long 15 hour drive from Addis, through the stunning landscapes of rural Ethiopia. Ethiopia has some stunning rainforests in its southern region (Oromia), and Arabica coffee originates in this region as a shrub that grows in the understorey of the rainforest. It was first cultivated by Ethiopians around a thousand years ago, and from there coffee culture spread to Yemen and Arabia (hence the name Arabica) and then on to western Europe and eventually around the world.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University