Illegal coffee grown in tiger habitat ends in world

EoF Press Release / 22 January 2007

Press Release

WWF: Illegal Coffee Grown in Tiger Habitat Ends in World’s Best Coffee Brands 

Jakarta, Indonesia – Coffee lovers all over the globe are unknowingly drinking coffee that was illegally grown inside one of the world’s most important national parks for tigers, elephants and rhinos, says an investigative report released today by WWF. The illegally grown coffee is mixed by local traders with legal coffee beans and exported from Indonesia to companies such as Kraft Food, Nestlé, Lavazza, and Marubeni, according to the global conservation organization. Neither exporting nor importing companies have mechanisms in place to prevent the trade of illegal beans. Using satellite imaging, interviews with coffee farmers and traders and monitoring of coffee trade routes, WWF tracked the illegal cultivation of robusta coffee inside Indonesia’s remote Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park all the way through its export routes to multinational coffee companies and the shelves of grocery stores in the U.S.,Europe and Asia. Bukit Barisan Selatan, a World Heritage Site on the southern tip of Sumatra Island, has lost nearly 20 percent of its forest cover to illegal agriculture.

The park is one of the few protected areas where Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and Sumatran rhinos coexist. It is one of the most important habitats left for the three, all endangered or critically endangered species. “If this trend of clearing park land for coffee isn’t halted, the rhinos and tigers will be locally extinct in less than a decade,” said Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia’s Director of Policy and Corporate Engagement. “We think even the world’s most committed coffee drinkers will find this an unacceptable price to pay for their daily caffeine buzz.” Indonesia is the world’s second-largest exporter of robusta coffee, which is often used in instant coffee and packaged coffee sold in supermarkets. At least half the country’s coffee is exported through the port of Lampung, adjacent to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. WWF’s investigation found that farmers were growing coffee on more than 45,000 hectares of park land, producing more than 19,600 tons of coffee annually there. Most wildlife have already abandoned those areas.

The coffee is exported to at least 52 countries. WWF determined that most of the companies buying the coffee likely were unaware of its illegal origins, based on the lack of regulations in the region. WWF provided draft copies of the report’s findings to the top recipients of Lampung coffee tainted with illegal beans from Bukit Barisan Selatan. Some companies denied any purchase of illegally grown coffee, while others are in discussions with WWF on how to avoid purchases of tainted coffee, boost production of sustainably grown coffee and restore wildlife habitat of the park. WWF Indonesia was most encouraged by the actions Nestlé Indonesia has already taken in Lampung, Sumatra, and the commitments Nestlé made to support the sustainable production of high quality coffee outside the park. “WWF doesn’t want to shut down the coffee industry in Lampung Province,” Foead said. “We are asking national and multinational coffee companies to help build sustainable coffee production cooperatives around the National Park while implementing rigorous chain-of-custody controls that exclude all illegally grown coffee from their supplies.”

WWF also recommends that the BBS park authorities and local governments prevent further encroachment into the park, develop regulations that prevent illegally grown coffee from infiltrating international trade, implement sustainable development programs in the park buffer zone, and begin forest restoration program to cover the one third of the park that have been destroyed by illegal logging and agriculture over the past few decades.                                                                   

### Contact: Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia’s Policy & Corporate Engagement Director, m: +62-811977604, Email: