Agroforestry systems can mitigate the impacts of climate change on coffee production: A spatially explicit assessment in Brazil

Gomes, L.C.; Bianchi, F.J.J.A.; Cardoso, I.M.; Fernandes, R.B.A.; Filho, Fernandes E.I.; Schulte, R.P.O.


Climate change may impose severe challenges to farmers to maintain agricultural production levels in the future. In this study we analysed the effect of projected changes in climate on the area suitable for coffee production in 2050, and the potential of agroforestry systems to mitigate these effects in a major coffee production region in southeast Brazil. We conducted a spatially explicit analysis with the bioclimatic model MaxEnt to explore the area that is suitable for coffee production in 2050 when coffee is grown in unshaded plantations and in agroforestry systems. The projected climate in 2050 was assessed using 19 global circulation models, and we accounted for the altered microclimate in agroforestry systems by adjusting the maximum and minimum air temperature. The climate models indicated that the annual mean air temperature is expected to increase 1.7 °C ± 0.3 in the study region, which will lead to almost 60 % reduction in the area suitable for coffee production in unshaded plantations by 2050. However, the adoption of agroforestry systems with 50 % shade cover can reduce the mean temperatures and maintain 75 % of the area suitable for coffee production in 2050, especially between 600 and 800 m altitude. Our study indicates that major shifts in areas suitable for coffee production may take place within three decades, potentially leading to land conflicts for coffee production and nature conservation. Incentives that contribute to the development of coffee agroforestry systems at appropriate locations may be essential to safeguard coffee production in the southeast of Brazil.