The coffee pulp that grows a forest!

Jun 23, 2021 | written by:

Do you know what solastalgia is?

It is a neologism that describes a form of stress and discomfort caused by climate change.

And do you know how to fight it?

By reading reports such as the one published a few days ago in the specialist journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence. By reading about how, all over the world, we are setting in motion what is perhaps humanity's single greatest resource: creativity in problem solving.

The research I'm going to talk about today concerns the properties of coffee pulp, which is what is left of the fruit once the beans have been extracted.

Listen to this.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and the University of Hawaiʻi carried out an experiment in Costa Rica, in an area affected by an illegal deforestation practice that has stripped the county of Coto Brus of 25% of its forest cover.

On a plot of about 1,500 square metres, they laid a 50-centimetre layer of coffee pulp. They then marked out an adjacent area of the same size, on which the pulp was not applied.

Then they waited.

For two years.

The result?

The treated area turned into a small tropical forest, with almost 80% of the land area covered by native forest. They also detected an increase in nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil. 

What about the part that wasn't covered with magical caffeine?

This plot remained dominated by grass, and the trees that did manage to grow reached only a quarter of the height of those that grew happily in the treated area.

Rebecca Cole, one of the researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi, rightly called it a win-win situation. Not only does it gives coffee producers a sustainable way to dispose of their waste, she says, but it also accelerates the growth of native forests.

Maybe there's no such thing as useless things, only resources that we haven't yet figured out how to use.

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