A conscientious supporter
Project manager eduardo trevisan tells us about the mission of imaflora, a brazilian ngo specialising in biodiversity that works with the rainforest alliance as part of the Nespresso aaa sustainable quality program.
Those who visit imaflora leave with the impression of a verdant oasis in the midst of the anonymous concrete desert of São Paulo’s outer suburbs.
This little house and garden, which recycles all its rain water, is a log chalet made from certified timber, a sustainable material that is rot-proof and very solid but unusual in a country used to bricks. “We combat deforestation by targeting trees that can be cut down without damaging forests. In general, we encourage industry to make itself accountable for the way in which it affects people and the environment,” states Eduardo Trevisan, Manager of the Brazilian NGO.
How do you work with Nespresso?
EDUARDO TREVISAN. We are helping them to anchor the environmental, socio-economic and quality standards of the AAA Program in Brazil over the long term. But since quality is rarely an issue in this country of experienced coffee-growers, our attention is particularly focused on issues surrounding the safety of farm workers or the protection of water and forests. The programme relies on the motivation of the producers. In general, it takes between two and three years for them to incorporate it into their way of working. The investment is not so much fi nancial as personal, because it involves a lot of small changes. But these efforts are rewarded by undeniable financial benefits.
Imaflora is also a partner of the Rainforest Alliance…
E. T. For over five years, Brazilian producers working with the AAA Program have been able to have their farm certifi ed by the Rainforest Alliance if their operations meet the organisation’s criteria. One of our roles is to familiarise coffee-growers with ecologically viable practices. It’s not an overnight job, but we’re moving forwards at a realistic pace. Our work is more about monitoring rather than completing a mission. We are a sort of watchdog.
What is the connection between coffee quality and the AAA Program?
E. T. Top-quality coffee is a commodity that is still too rare to fully satisfy global demand, which is becoming more and more exacting. We applaud the clear-sightedness of a programme that supports farmers in the long term as they aim for quality. It’s a programme that acknowledges their coffee-growing heritage and encourages them to develop it further. What’s more, no one can hope to produce good coffee for long without thinking about its environmental impact, especially since many coffee-lovers are prepared to pay a fair price to ensure that they are not contributing to the destruction of ecosystems or human lives.
How can production standards be applied to coffee-growing situations as diverse as those in Brazil?
E. T. Nespresso is working with a small local NGO like ours rather than a large international agency because of our on-the-ground experience. Our expertise enables Nespresso to adapt its approach to each regional situation. For example, some standards recommend that coffee trees should grow in the shade rather than in open fields. In Colombia, which is close to the equator, the sunlight is very intense and it is better to provide coffee trees with shade, especially since the volcanic earth there is very fertile and helps the trees grow well. However, in the Cerrado (see “The Experts” section), the soil is much older and poorer. Indigenous shrubs are naturally short and thus cannot provide shade for coffee trees. The sunlight is weaker there anyway and we believe that it is better to maintain areas of local biodiversity typical of the savannah land in the region, which can be used by fauna of all kinds, rather than planting imported species. However, in the Vale da Grama (see “Grands Crus” section), where plots are very hilly, it is a good idea to plant trees among the coffee trees, not for their shade, but because their roots hold the soil together, preventing erosion.
What are the benefits of working with Nespresso?
E. T. Well, we have a much deeper impact through this kind of teamwork than we would if we were working on our own.
Text: Julien Bouré
Photography: Olivier Gachen