Positive forest cover effects on coffee yields are consistent across regions.

Published online
18 Feb 2022
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

González-Chaves, A. & Carvalheiro, L. G. & Garibaldi, L. A. & Metzger, J. P.
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Enhancing biodiversity-based ecosystem services can generate win-win opportunities for conservation and agricultural production. Pollination and pest control are two essential agricultural services provided by mobile organisms, many depending on native vegetation networks beyond the farm scale. Many studies have evaluated the effects of landscape changes on such services at small scales. However, several landscape management policies (e.g. selection of conservation sites) and associated funding allocation occur at much larger spatial scales (e.g. state or regional level). Therefore, it is essential to understand whether the links between landscape, ecosystem services and crop yields are robust across broad and heterogeneous regional conditions. Here, we used data from 610 Brazilian municipalities within the Atlantic Forest region (~50 Mha) and show that forest is a crucial factor affecting coffee yields, regardless of regional variations in soil, climate and management practices. We found forest cover surrounding coffee fields was better at predicting coffee yields than forest cover at the municipality level. Moreover, the positive effect of forest cover on coffee yields was stronger for Coffea canephora, the species with higher pollinator dependence, than for Coffea arabica. Overall, coffee yields were highest when they were near to forest fragments, mostly in landscapes with intermediate to high forest cover (>20%), above the biodiversity extinction threshold. Coffee cover was the most relevant management practice associated with coffee yield prediction. An increase in crop area was associated with a higher yield, but mostly in high forest covers municipalities. Other localized management practices like irrigation, pesticide use, organic manure and honeybee density had little importance in predicting coffee yields than landscape structure parameters. Neither the climatic or topographic variables were as relevant as forest cover at predicting coffee yields. Synthesis and application. Our work provides evidence that landscape relationships with ecosystem service provision are consistent across regions with different agricultural practices and environmental conditions. These results provide a way in which landscape management can articulate small landscape management with regional conservation goals. Policies directed towards increasing landscape interspersion of coffee fields with forest remnants favour spillover process, and can thus benefit the provision of biodiversity-based ecosystem services, increasing agricultural productivity. Such interventions can generate win-win situations favouring biodiversity conservation and increased crop yields across large regions.

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