University of Vermont

Gund Research Profile: Conservation on Coffee Landscapes

Gund Fellow, Ernesto Méndez, discusses his research on the potential of agroecology to support farmer livelihoods and conserve ecosystem services in agroforestry-dominated coffee landscapes.  Ernesto’s lab works in communities of smallholder coffee farmers across Mesoamerica to address and resolve socioeconomic and environmental challenges faced by farmers and rural communities.

Small-scale farmers are estimated to produce 70% of the world’s coffee supply (Eakin et al, 2009), within an industry supported by up to 25 million coffee producers. If you also include coffee harvesters, processors, and industry workers, the total is closer to 100 million people whose livelihoods depend on the crop in some way (Jha et al, 2011). Many of these coffee growers live in regions of high food insecurity and high biodiversity. This intersection sets up an immediate time and location to examine how we can solve the linked global problems of environmental degradation and improving human livelihoods. Ernesto explains some of his projects that integrate research, teaching and outreach to address and resolve socioeconomic and environmental challenges faced by farmers and rural communities.

Presenter: Dr. Ernesto Méndez, Associate Professor in the Environmental Program and the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at UVM and a Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.


The Gund Institute is a hub for transdisciplinary scholarship, based at the University of Vermont and comprising diverse faculty, students, and collaborators worldwide. Together we conduct research at the interface of ecological, social, and economic systems, develop creative, practical solutions to local and global environmental challenges, and provide future leaders with the tools and understanding necessary to navigate the transition to a sustainable society.

To learn more visit: http://www.uvm.edu/~gundiee/

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