Global coffee production, especially in smallholder farming systems, is vulnerable and must adapt in the face of climate change. To this end, shaded agroforestry systems are a promising strategy. Background and Objectives:
Understanding local contexts is a prerequisite for designing locally tailored systems; this can be achieved by utilizing farmers’ knowledge. Our objective is to explore ecosystem services (ESs) provided by different shade tree species as perceived by farmers and possible factors (elevation, gender, and membership in local farmers groups) influencing these perceptions. We related these factors, as well as farmers’ ESs preferences, to planting densities of tree species. Materials and Methods:
During interviews with 263 small-scale coffee farmers on the southern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro, they ranked the most common shade tree species according to perceived provision of the locally most important ESs for coffee farmers. We asked them to estimate the population of each tree species on their coffee fields and to identify the three ESs most important for their household. Results:
Food, fodder, and fuelwood emerged as the most important ESs, with 37.8% of the respondents mentioning all three as priorities. Density of tree species perceived to provide these three ESs were significantly higher for farmers prioritizing these services compared to farmers that did not consider all three ESs in their top three. Albizia schimperiana
scored the highest for all rankings of regulatory ESs such as coffee yield improvement, quality shade provision, and soil fertility improvement. Influence of elevation, gender, and farmer group affiliation was negligible for all rankings. Conclusions:
This study shows the need to understand factors underlying farmers’ management decisions before recommending shade tree species. Our results led to the upgrade of the online tool (shadetreeadvice.org) which generates lists of potential common shade tree species tailored to local ecological context considering individual farmers’ needs.
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