Woodland Zoo Conservation Project with Conservation International, Caffe Vita

2/21/2012

CI, Woodland Park Zoo, Caffe Vita bring coffee from Papua New Guinea to Seattle, Creating Opportunities for Subsistence Farmers

Seattle, Washington / Arlington, Virginia - In the remote Yopno Uruwa Som (YUS) forests of Papua New Guinea’s Huon Peninsula, Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP), Conservation International (CI) and Seattle’s Caffe Vita are brewing up something unique with subsistence farmers—the first coffee you’ll ever have the chance to drink from this region.

More than a high quality, tasty drink, this coffee is on a mission: to create a better life for the Papua New Guinea landowners who have worked with the zoo and TKCP to pledge their own land to conservation.

Grown in shade without the use of pesticides, “PNG YUS” Farm Direct coffee is now available in limited edition, 12-oz. bags at all Seattle Caffe Vita locations, Woodland Park Zoo ZooStores and online at www.caffevita.com. This marks the first-ever coffee from the YUS region made commercially available in the U.S., purchased directly from the growers at a fair price.

“The YUS farmers have had so many challenges trying to sell their coffee in the past, but now they have reason for hope,” said Papua New Guinean Benjamin Sipa, TKCP Community Livelihoods Coordinator. “For the first time, these farmers have a real opportunity to earn the money they need to put their children through school and provide for their healthcare.”

Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most richly diverse forests in the world. In 2009, the indigenous clans of the Huon Peninsula joined TKCP in making history, pledging more than 180,000 acres of their own land to permanent protection under the Yopno Uruwa Som Conservation Area (YUS CA), Papua New Guinea’s first ever protected Conservation Area. The YUS CA protects critical forest habitat for endangered species endemic to Papua New Guinea, including TKCP’s flagship species, the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo.

Woodland Park Zoo has just completed a $1 million fundraising effort, which will be matched in full by a generous grant from Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund, creating a $2 million YUS Conservation Endowment to ensure sustainable funding to manage the protected area into the future.

In return for pledging their land and committing to conservation and long-term management of their resources, TKCP has worked to create alternative, ecofriendly economic opportunities for the YUS landowners. In partnership with Caffe Vita, TKCP is establishing coffee as the first-ever direct trade cash crop in the YUS region.

“The mountainous YUS region is so remote—with no roads leading in or out and only irregular, prohibitively costly airfreight—that we knew this effort could only be possible with the guidance of an expert partner who could help us establish an infrastructure for transporting the coffee as well as a real market for the product,” said Dr. Lisa Dabek, Woodland Park Zoo senior conservation scientist and director of the zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program. “Caffe Vita stepped up not only to provide the structure and market support, but they even came with us to Papua New Guinea to meet the farmers, train them on coffee cultivation techniques and help them improve their product to the sensibilities of the gourmet Seattle coffee market.”

"The farmers of YUS have shown remarkable progress toward implementing the changes necessary to improve yields, and, more importantly, the quality of their coffee," said Daniel Shewmaker, Caffe Vita sustainable coffee buyer. "Our goal is the continual refinement of these farming and processing practices, with the reward being an improvement to their livelihoods, a strengthening of the Conservation Area, and a cup of coffee like no other."

The coffee available on shelves now is a blend made up of the best in beans from several YUS villages purchased from a total of 54 Papua New Guinea farmers. Mellow and honey-like, the coffee has flavors of toasted hazelnut, orange zest, guava and sugarcane.

“When you drink this coffee, you are taking a direct conservation action, supporting the farmers’ efforts to make a fair living while still protecting their land and the animals and people who depend on it from mining, logging and other environmentally destructive forest activities,” added Dr. Dabek.

With successful sales of the limited edition “PNG YUS” coffee available now, Caffe Vita and Woodland Park Zoo’s TKCP hope to expand the conservation coffee program to make the product available year-round.

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Editor's notes:

photos credits:

farmers - photo copyright by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

tree kangaroo - Photo copyright Bruce Beehler/Conservation International

For more information:

Julie Shaw, Global Conservation Fund, Conservation International: j.shaw@conservation.org

Rebecca Whitham, Woodland Park Zoo: Rebecca.Whitham@Zoo.org

About Woodland Park Zoo
Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. The 21st century zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in Washington state and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit www.zoo.org  or call 206.548.2500.

About Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program
Based at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program fosters wildlife and habitat conservation and supports local community livelihoods in Papua New Guinea through global partnerships, land protection and scientific research. For more information, visit www.zoo.org/treekangaroo

About Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Company
Caffe Vita Roasting Co. has been roasting coffee since 1995. A locally owned and operated artisan roaster, Vita operates eight cafes in the Pacific Northwest and will expand to New York and Los Angeles this year. Caffe Vita has made it their mission to source the best coffees directly from exceptional farms who practice extraordinary levels of stewardship and sustainability. A pioneer in the Farm Direct movement, Caffe Vita is the exclusive coffee provider for Woodland Park Zoo concessions.

About Conservation International (CI)
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. CI’s Global Conservation Fund finances the creation, expansion and long-term management of protected areas in the world's biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and important marine regions. The Fund has enabled CI regional programs and more than 49 partners to help protect more than 75 million hectares of the world's biologically richest land and seascapes. www.conservation.org/gcf