A new study has found that 60% all coffee species are at the risk of extinction from disease, climate change, and the loss of suitable space to grow coffee. The study is published in Science Advances (http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaav3473). The species at risk include Arabica, the most widely consumed coffee variety in the world. There are 124 species of coffee. Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK), assessed all of them according to the standards of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This resulted in 75 coffee species (60%) being assessed as threatened with extinction — 13 critically endangered, 40 endangered, 22 vulnerable. Another 35 species were assessed as not threatened while the remaining 14 species were data-deficient.
Included among the 60% under threat of extinction are those that could be key to the future of coffee production. Arabica alone accounts for 60% of world coffee trade, and Robusta for the remaining 40%. Given the threat, other coffee species are likely to be required for coffee crop plant development, the researchers said.
“There are a number of possible solutions to these problems. Important opportunities are likely to come from the use of wild coffee species, and the incorporation of specific genes from wild plants via breeding,” Aaron Davis, Head of Coffee Research at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, wrote on the organisation’s website.