By Olivia Desmit
A hot and dry summer has caused low potato yields in Belgium and across Europe, resulting in sad, stubby fries or "frites"—up to an entire inch shorter than the 3-inch norm. The news gets worse: If Europeans were planning to wash down those salty frites with a cold Belgian beer, then they need to think again. There might also be a shortage of the brew due to an expected decrease in barley yields.
The culprit behind these inconveniences: climate change. Europe has seen record high temperatures and droughts this summer because of climate change. Potato crop yields are down 25 percent from previous years, and barley (a primary ingredient in beer) yields are expected to fall up to 40 percent.
"The fact that climate change threatens the small things that make our daily life a happy one reminds us that we have a responsibility to tackle climate change and its impacts in the world," said Herbert Lust, vice president of Conservation International Europe.
This problem is bigger than a hefty bar tab: Climate change is already reducing yields of wheat, rice, coffee and cocoa. Agriculture is dependent on weather patterns, and climate change is directly influencing them, resulting in droughts in already dry regions of the world and floods in regions that already receive enough rain.
Deforestation is one of the greatest contributors to climate change, and 80 percent of deforestation is due to agricultural expansion. In other words, the way food is produced and consumed contributes to a negative cycle that harms the environment and results in less food. Soy, palm oil, beef, coffee and cocoa products that are imported by major economies account for a large portion of this problem. Global demand for these products is booming, and this high demand threatens the very ecosystems that we need to protect to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
Conservation International is tackling these challenges by designing landscapes that are sustainable, which means they prevent deforestation and ecosystem degradation while also improving the livelihoods of local communities. Another important part of our work involves training farmers in more sustainable agricultural practices to improve productivity without further degrading the environment.
"Farming communities will be hit hardest by climate change, particularly in the poorest countries," said Fanny Gauttier, manager of European Union Policy and Sustainable Production for Conservation International. "It is urgent that we recognize the significant impact our use of land has on the environment if we have any hope of adapting to and mitigating climate change."
"The situation with frites and beer is just a taste of what's to come."
Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.
By Jessica Pink
Editor's note: Shark Week 2018 has kicked off! Before you dive in, take a look at three shark stories from the past week that you should know about. For even more content, check out six of Human Nature's most popular shark stories, including our exploration of "demon whale biters."
The story: Contrary to popular belief, shark attacks aren't as prevalent as many believe them to be, reported Doyle Rice for USA Today July 14. According to research, only five humans died globally this past year from shark attacks—compared to the 100 million sharks that humans kill each year.
The big picture: Due in large part to cultural juggernauts such as the 1975 thriller Jaws, which paint sharks as ruthless human hunters, sharks are often viewed only as attackers. The reality? Many shark species are endangered due to the practice of shark finning, wherein fishers cut off shark fins and throw the severely wounded animals back into the ocean. Prized in Chinese culture, the valuable fins are commonly used in traditional soup or medicine. Shark finning is just one piece of the billion-dollar illegal and unregulated fishing trade, but recent successes in the tracking and prosecuting of illegal fishers could spell hope for the ocean's most notorious predators.
Read more here.
Shark, pictured above, swimming alongside fish in Tuamotu.Rodolphe Holler
The story: Warmer oceans are triggering certain shark species to adapt their migratory patterns, reported Josh Gabbatiss for The Independent July 16. Large shark species including great whites, black tips and hammerheads could soon be moving to British waters.
The big picture: Although certain species of sharks can migrate, others are not as able to adapt. As climate change affects the temperature and acidity of oceans, species such as basking sharks are already suffering. As the ocean becomes more acidic, for example, sharks have a difficult time seeking their prey. Despite this potential increase in the number of different shark species swimming British waters, an expert explained that the actual number of British sharks could, in fact, go down. "We will increase from 40 species to maybe 60, but there will still be less of them—and some of the existing ones will maybe go extinct in the meantime," said Dr. Ken Collins, a former administrator of the UK Shark Tagging Programme.
Read more here.
The big picture: As climate change, pollution and overfishing threaten healthy oceans, sharks offer hope for at least one marine ecosystem: coral reefs. Research shows that in reefs where robust shark populations were found, corals showed faster recovery from bleaching. And the positive impact of sharks stretches further: "Just the fear of sharks can be enough, in many cases, to keep a marine ecosystem healthy and able to respond to stresses," said Mike Heithaus, Florida International University scientist. The continued decline of already threatened shark populations could set off a negative chain of events that would prove devastating to entire marine ecosystems—and the humans that depend on the ocean for their food and livelihoods.
Read more here.
Jessica Pink is an editorial intern for Conservation International.
- Shark Week 2018: Interactive Map Shows How Commercial Fishing ... ›
- Sharks Are Vanishing From Many of the World’s Reefs ›
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils for pain, anxiety, and sleep will point you in the right direction.
More and more people are looking to boost their health with CBD oil. The rise in CBD's popularity shows that many people are experiencing positive outcomes through the regular use of CBD to help control and improve difficult health issues.
Our guide to the strongest CBD oils will help to point you in the right direction so that you can choose the best, most potent oil for your needs. We will also educate you about the best CBD oils along the way, while also discussing how we chose our top brands and why.
Does Strength of CBD Oil Matter?
The strength of an oil does matter. The more potent a CBD oil is, the stronger effects it will create. To that end, full spectrum oils are the best oils to go with because CBD isolates do not have all of the other vitamins, terpenes, compounds, and phytonutrients that full spectrum oils have. So, not only will you be getting all the positive effects that a strong oil has to offer, you'll also be able to receive the vast therapeutic benefits that the many compounds, terpenes, and phytonutrients bring to the table.
The strength or concentration of a CBD oil is measured in milligrams of CBD, both per bottle and per serving. For many brands, a serving is considered 1 mL of the oil tincture. The best way to evaluate the strength of a CBD oil by how many milligrams of CBD you will get with each 1 mL dropper.
6 Strongest CBD Oil Brands of 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best for Pain Relief - Spruce CBD Oil
- Best Organic - Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil
- Best for Sleep - Charlotte's Web CBD Oil
- Best Value - CBDistillery Full Spectrum Tincture
- Best for Calm - Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
- Best Flavors - FAB CBD Oil
How We Chose the Strongest CBD Oil Brands
When it comes to choosing a CBD oil brand, you need to take the time and put in the research to ensure that you are getting the strongest, and best quality product you can purchase.
We've put the time and effort into selecting the top brands that we feel have the strongest CBD oil, the best reputation, and the cleanest, most effective products. When it came to selecting our top strongest CBD oils, we looked at six key categories:
- Type of CBD - We looked to see whether the CBD oil was full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.
- Strength - We compared the oil strength and purity versus other available options. All of our recommendations offer a concentration of at least 50 mg of CBD per serving.
- Source - Where does the brand source its hemp from, and is it grown organically?
- Flavor - We looked for oil flavors and the ingredients used in the oil.
- Transparency - A key consideration is whether a third-party lab was used to test the products and if those results are easy for customers to find
- Customer experience - We also read verified customer reviews to see what actual users had to say.
Based on these factors, here are the brands that made our list of strongest CBD oils.
6 Strongest CBD Oils of 2021
Best for Pain Relief: Spruce CBD
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 80 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - North Carolina and Kentucky
Why buy: Spruce CBD oils are high-quality, extremely potent, and 100 percent all-natural. We like their high potency CBD oil because it's an organic and all-natural CBD oil that has no added flavor to allow for their strongest CBD concentration in a 30 mL bottle. This is the strongest CBD oil for pain that may help manage aches, pains, and stiffness.
Best Organic: Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Kentucky
Why buy — Cornbread Hemp CBD oils are all USDA-certified organic. They use a distillation process designed to preserve as many of the beneficial phytonutrients and minor cannabinoids as possible, and only extract their CBD from the flower of the hemp plant. We love that this CBD oil is vegan, non-GMO, and ideal for daytime use.
Best for Sleep: Charlotte's Web CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 60 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Value: CBDistillery Full Spectrum Tincture
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 83 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: CBDistillery is a reputable brand that works hard to create quality, potent, and affordable products. The brand has a broad product line that includes oils, gummies, and topicals. We love the affordability of their extremely potent CBD oils (like the 2500 mg option), and that they use Colorado-grown organic hemp.
Best for Calm: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Bodyplantpeople.coBest for Inflammation: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Flavors: FAB CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 80 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: FAB CBD offers some of the strongest, cleanest, and best CBD products out on the market today. FAB's full spectrum CBD oil comes in a variety of flavors and strengths, including mint, citrus, vanilla, natural, and berry oils in strengths of 300 mg, 600 mg, 1200 mg, and 2400 mg. We like FAB CBD oil because it gives you so many different options to find the strongest CBD oil that's right for you.
Research on CBD Oil and Potency
CBD oil is created when cannabidiol, or CBD, is infused into a fat-based carrier oil such as hempseed oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil. Carrier oils are usually medium-chain triglycerides that are easily digested by the body. The very basic oils will only have CBD and the carrier oil, however, some can also contain other compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and terpenes. Some brands will also infuse various natural flavors or essential oils into the final products.
CBD oil can vary in color, flavor, and consistency depending on its makeup. Likewise, the strength also depends on the oil's formulation. CBD oils can be isolates, broad spectrum, or full spectrum. In CBD isolates, only pure CBD is used. These oils are usually 99 percent pure. CBD isolates are typically made solely from the hemp plant.
Broad spectrum and full spectrum oils, on the other hand, are typically sourced from the cannabis plant and have had minimal processing and purification. These oils have a large amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, nutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients. The difference between the two is that broad spectrum CBD products contain zero THC.
Along with CBD, one of the main compounds in full spectrum oils is THC. In large amounts, THC causes feelings of euphoria. However, legally, all CBD crafted and sold within the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC. When CBD and THC are combined, an entourage effect occurs. In the entourage effect, the compounds work together to dampen each other's negative side effects while amplifying each other's best qualities. For example, too much THC can cause feelings of nausea or dizziness. However, when THC is combined with CBD, the THC enables those with sleep issues to finally get some rest, and helps those with extreme nausea, due to cancer treatment, finally get some much-needed nourishment by increasing appetite. Put simply, the cannabinoids bind with cell receptors in the human endocannabinoid system to create therapeutic effects.
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil and Potency for You
There are several key factors to take into consideration when choosing the strongest CBD oil for pain, sleep, or anxiety. One of the first things to look at is the concentration of CBD within the product. Next, take a look at the milligrams of CBD that are in a single serving. The best quality products clearly have all the facts and information laid out on their labels. In reading the labels, you should be able to tell exactly how much CBD you are getting per serving. How much CBD you need to be taking depends on how your body reacts to the product over time.
What to Look For
Here are the primary things to look for when comparing the strongest CBD oil options.
CBD Spectrum - Make sure you know whether you are getting a full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate oil. This is especially important if you are concerned about THC content.
Concentration - When looking for the strongest CBD oils, you need to be certain of how many milligrams of CBD are contained in each bottle and each 1 mL serving.
Lab Testing - For any CBD product, it's vital that you look for brands who ensure their CBD undergoes independent third-party lab testing for purity and safety.
How to Read Labels
Make sure that you know what to look for on the label of any CBD oil or product. Here are the key things to know.
- Type of CBD - The label should clearly indicate the spectrum of CBD in the oil. If it is a broad spectrum or CBD isolate, it will usually say that it is "THC-Free."
- Dosage Guide - Some brands include a dosage guide on the label to help you measure the appropriate amount of CBD per serving. This is important with higher potency oils.
- Test Results - Look for proof that the CBD has undergone third-party lab testing. Many brands include a QR code or link on the label to the test results for that product.
How to Use
Everyone's body is different, so what works well for one person might not work for another. Smaller individuals might need less CBD than larger individuals based on body size and overall mass. Along with body size, the reason you are taking CBD is another consideration in purchasing strong CBD oil.
Whatever oil strength you choose, you should first start low and go slow when it comes to dosing. For example, begin by taking half of a serving of CBD once a day for one week. If you are not feeling any benefits, then go ahead and take half a dose twice a day. Continue increasing the dosage slowly until you are achieving the desired effects. Always check in with yourself to see how you are feeling along the way. This will help you to determine if you should increase the dosage at all. As with any other medication or holistic supplement, your body will need adequate time to get used to a new CBD dosage, and CBD typically works best as it builds up in your system over time.
Safety & Side Effects
There are very few minor side effects associated with CBD. To date, a great number of studies have been done on CBD showing that it is generally well-tolerated and safe for adults.
Some of the most common side effects associated with CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
Those suffering from chronic pain or increased stress may benefit from stronger CBD oil tinctures that can provide a more potent dose of cannabinoids. CBD oil can be a great addition to any natural healthcare routine. Just make sure you are putting in the time and effort to find the product and the brand that is best suited to your own unique needs, condition, and lifestyle.
By Morgan Lynch
Being an elephant mother is a full-time job—and then some.
Elephant mothers carry their babies for nearly two years before giving birth. Then they ensure their babies get the best food, teach their children the most useful skills and show their children how to lead the herd during hard times.
Elephants recognize that their mothers know best—the herds are matriarchal. The oldest female elephant plays a key role in controlling the social network of the group and in ensuring the survival of the family.
Not all elephant families are so fortunate: When their mothers are lost to poaching or to human-wildlife conflict, young orphaned elephants stand little chance in the wild. Now, organizations like Reteti Elephant Sanctuary—the first community-owned elephant orphanage in Africa, and the subject of the new Conservation International film My Africa—are filling the gap. By raising orphaned elephants for release back into the wild, the sanctuary offers a glimmer of hope that this threatened species can continue to thrive.
Far better, of course, to stop poaching and conflict in the first place—and allow young elephants to learn from some of the busiest mothers on the planet. On this Mother's Day, here are three reasons why elephants make some of the best mothers.
1. Elephant Mothers Produce the Best Meals
A baby elephant adds about two pounds of bodyweight each day after birth. An elephant mother's milk changes four times during the weaning process to meet the baby's needs.
At Kenya's Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, keepers have to make sure that orphaned elephants get the nutrients they need, using a precise feeding program specialized for each elephant. Each bottle is different for each elephant, and keepers must feed the elephants eight times a day to keep them healthy. The best substitute for a mother elephant's milk? Human baby formula, which is fortified with protein, fat and vitamins.
During the painful teething process, an elephant mother's milk adapts to soothe the baby: Mother elephants will change their diets to include plants with anti-inflammatory properties to help the baby cope with incoming teeth. At the sanctuary, keepers use their knowledge of local plants to administer natural medicines to mimic the same types of nutrition.
2. Elephant Mothers Are the Best Teachers
Elephants learn how to pick the best plants for eating, how to defend against predators and how to navigate steep embankments—all from their mothers.
At Reteti, keepers focus on introducing the young elephants to their natural surroundings in hopes of eventually returning them to the wild. Some of this information can't be taught by the human keepers alone.
This is where Shaba comes in.
The oldest female elephant at the sanctuary, Shaba arrived when she was 15 months old, after her parents were killed by poachers. Now at almost age three, she has taken on the role of matriarch for the Reteti herd, leading the herd every day on its walk about the bush and greeting every new orphaned elephant when they arrive. This way, even the orphaned elephants have a female role model to lead the way.
3. Elephant Matriarchs Are the Best Leaders
During times of drought, when animals' usual water sources dry up, the oldest female elephants can lead their herd hundreds of miles to water they visited years before—because they remember the locations. Elephant herds with older, larger matriarchs tend to fare better during times of crisis, because they have longer memories.
Sometimes the water source no longer exists, or human development gets in the way. By collaring elephants and tracking their movements, conservationists are learning more about elephant migrations to protect the animals' water sources and minimize human conflict.
Organizations use GPS tracking equipment to learn about elephants' behaviors and movements in real-time. Aside from gathering more data about elephants' needs, this technology can save an elephant's life: When the researchers notice that a particular elephant becomes unusually immobile, this could mean that an elephant is being attacked by poachers. The researchers then send text messages to nearby rangers who can investigate—and potentially stop—poachers from harming the elephant.
Feeding, teaching, leading: It's all in a day's work for elephant moms.
By Morgan Lynch
To get through the rest of the winter, Conservation International (CI) staff are spending their free time with their favorite books. Here are three picks they can't put down.
This book tells the extraordinary story of 18th and early 19th century explorer and scientist Alexander von Humboldt. In vivid language, the book describes his milestone achievement—a five-year expedition to remote parts of South America where he ventured deep into the Orinoco and Amazon watersheds, climbed more volcanoes than anyone in history, and collected 2,000 plant species new to science. von Humboldt considered indigenous peoples' as most knowledgeable about nature's workings, he abhorred slavery, and he believed that personal experiences, emotions, exploration of the unknown and being in nature are all essential to increase scientific understanding and to generate novel insights. His books were bestsellers and they brought an appreciation for nature and its benefits, as well as the threats posed by humanity to these, to a broader audience than ever before. Alexander von Humboldt established the basis for the science of ecology, and his work and writings inspired generations of students, artists and writers, some who would later become world-leading naturalists and scientists, like Darwin, Thoreau and Muir. He believed in free sharing of data and knowledge as a way to accelerate science and learning.
Today, 200 years later, we need more role models like von Humboldt, who cherish science and the beauty of nature, and whose stories can inspire us to take urgent action to conserve and restore the nature upon which people depend.
— Sebastian Troeng, executive vice president of programs at Conservation International
2. A Week in the Woods, by Andrew Clements
The main character is a bit of a smart-aleck, who think he can do everything until he ditches his fifth-grade class during their outdoor education trip. When his teacher tries to find him, both of them have to work together (and with nature) to get back to the group. As a former Girl Scout, I was intrigued by this survival story as a kid. I wanted to try out all of the techniques that the main character used at our next camping trip.
— Morgan Lynch, staff writer at Conservation International
3. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
One of my all-time favorites is an oldie but a goodie—The Lorax. I read it as a child, as a young adult, and now more recently with my own children. It is a simple, but profound message that we can all relate to. We all are "in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs."
— Daniela Raik, senior vice president and managing director for the Moore Center for Science at Conservation International
By Morgan Lynch
The news came as lawmakers in the United Kingdom were considering a similar move, The Guardian reported earlier this month.
Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted for a bill that would abolish the ivory trade by 2021, following China's complete ban on ivory sales that went into effect at the end of last year, the Associated Press reported.
Hong Kong's ban will be enforced in three stages: an initial ban on trade in hunting trophies and ivory dating from after 1975, followed by a ban on the sale of ivory acquired before 1975, and finally, traders would have to dispose of their stock by 2021. The penalties for violators will be increased to a maximum fine of HK$ 10 million (US$ 1.3 million) and up to 10 years in prison.
Conservation groups lauded the move.
"This is just the latest milestone in a global movement to end the global ivory trade and protect elephants in the wild," said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, which has worked with communities in Africa for years to help protect the animals. "Other nations considering ivory bans must follow through with strong action, and enforcement must remain a priority for countries that have committed to closing their markets."
An elephant in the Mara North Conservancy in KenyaJon McCormack
According to the most recent statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 36 elephants are killed each day for their ivory. Today, there are only 350,000 African savanna elephants left in the wild, marking a decline of 30 percent in less than a decade. Meanwhile, the illegal wildlife trade has funneled billions of dollars to organized crime networks.
"Elephant populations remain in jeopardy," Sanjayan said, "but today's news provides new hope that the tide is turning in their favor."
By Heartie Look
In recent years, the battle against wildlife poaching in Africa has taken a high-tech turn. Night-vision goggles, body armor and unmanned aerial vehicles have all become part of the modern ranger armament. But for rangers on the ground, their actual requests are often more everyday—starting with a good pair of socks.
"It is not always the fancy kit that rangers need," said Keith Roberts, executive director for wildlife trafficking at Conservation International (CI). "It is rather the basics that can make all the difference."
In response to this need, CI partnered with Osom Brand, a clothing company specializing in sustainable goods, to donate 1,000 pairs of high-quality socks specifically designed for rangers protecting wildlife on the front lines in Africa. Like all Osom Brand products, the socks are made almost entirely from recycled clothing, a process that reduces waste and eliminates the need for water and toxic dyes.
Find out more about CI's partnerships that help rangers in the original post.
Heartie Look is a partner marketing manager at Conservation International.
By Bruno Vander Velde
Our diets are—to put it bluntly—a problem for the planet.
About a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to food in some way. So what you put on your plate actually matters a lot more than you think.
In the newest installment of the Climate Lab video series—produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox Media—Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan illuminates the footprint of food.
The video debuts on Vox; watch above or at youtube.com/vox.
It might just change the way you eat.
By Raina Lang
Editor's note: Sept. 29 marks National Coffee Day in the U.S. Throughout September, Human Nature is publishing a series of reports on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition working to make coffee the world's first sustainable agricultural product. This post is the second in the series.
This story follows Conservation International's (CI) director of sustainable coffee markets, Raina Lang, to Guatemala, with Mattea Fleischner, manager on Starbucks' global social impact team. They were in the country to see how coffee trees are grown and delivered to farmers as part of the "One Tree for Every Bag" commitment, which has raised enough funds to plant more than 30 million new coffee trees. The commitment is part of a nearly 20-year partnership between CI and Starbucks.
As we approached the Huehuetenango nursery, crossing a one-lane bridge suspended over the Valparaiso River, I realized just how complex coffee tree deliveries could be. This year, the nursery is supplying half a million seedlings to farmers in the region as part of Starbucks commitment. As a partner in this effort, CI works with Starbucks and ECOM, the administrator of the nurseries, to ensure that healthy, high-quality coffee leaf-rust-resistant trees are distributed and that farmers understand and respect key environmental and social safeguards associated with the program.
The bridge leading to the coffee nursery. Conservation International / Raina Lang
I was in Guatemala to observe the deliveries of coffee trees to C.A.F.E. Practice farmers—those who comply with a set of social, environmental and economic best practices defined as requirements to enter the Starbucks supply chain. I also visited a few farms to see where and how trees were being planted. Tracking how nurseries deliver rust-resistant coffee plants to farmers—and monitoring the quality of the trees they're delivering—is one critical step in monitoring designed to ensure healthy, sustainable coffee farms and thriving farmers.
Coffee farmers rely on productive and resilient trees to maintain their place as growers in a competitive market—and to sustain their livelihoods. Due to threats such as aging trees, climate change and significant pest and disease outbreaks in recent decades, farmers in many places are in desperate need of support. According to a 2015 study, there is a need to replant an estimated 22,000 square kilometers (13,600 square miles) globally, which translates to roughly 7 billion-10 billion coffee trees. To address this need—and build on the success of the One Tree for Every Bag program—Starbucks has committed to quadruple its commitment by providing 100 million healthy coffee trees to farmers by 2025.
Healthy coffee trees in Guatemala. Conservation International / Raina Lang
This particular nursery in La Libertad—one of 12 nurseries across Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico servicing the program—has the capacity to distribute 10,000 trees a day. But there's a challenge: The bridge connecting trees to farmers can only be used by lightweight vehicles. When the river swells during rainy season, larger trucks that could transport greater quantities of trees can't make it to the nursery, resulting in a dance of pick-up trucks entering and exiting the nursery.
When we made it to the nursery at 7 a.m., there were already two trucks waiting to be loaded. Nursery workers move the trees to the truck bed using a plastic crate, fitting roughly 700 to 1,000 coffee trees into the truck bed. The whole loading process took around 45 minutes per truck. To ensure that the trees are accounted for and tracked, there is an intricate process in place to document and record the quantity of trees, license plate, driver and date in a central registrar. Using this method, Starbucks and their local suppliers can account for the nearly 21 million coffee trees that have been distributed to C.A.F.E. Practices farmers since 2016.
Coffee trees are loaded onto truck for delivery to farmers as part of Starbucks program. Starbucks
That afternoon—just prior to a tropical downpour common in the tropics during rainy season—we visited a farm that had received seedlings from the program. Gustavo Alfaro is a fourth-generation farmer whose property was hit by coffee leaf rust several years back, just when he was taking it over from his father. Since taking ownership, he has made a concerted approach to increase shade cover in and around the coffee area. The trees and native vegetation in the zone regulate the climate across the farm, he explained, which can help mitigate future rust outbreaks. As we chatted, each newly delivered seedling was carried carefully to the area using a wooden backpack, then planted under a canopy of shade.
Backpack used to transport new seedlings into the coffee area for planting. Conservation International / Raina Lang
As we stood under the conacaste trees watching the seedlings being planted, we could hear the distinct calls of a tinamu chico, a flightless bird that roams the coffee fields in this region. In the face of climate change, those healthy, disease-resistant seedlings help Gustavo further build resilience on his farm.
Farmers receive their trees. Starbucks
But what if we could do more to help farmers like Gustavo adapt to a changing climate? Dozens of organizations in the Sustainable Coffee Challenge—including Starbucks—have joined forces to accelerate the responsible renovation and rehabilitation of coffee farms, committing to provide 1 billion healthy and productive trees worldwide. Together, the group is working to increase collective investment to ensure a healthy future for coffee and to make it possible for every coffee farmer to make renovation and rehabilitation a regular part of doing business.
Learn more about the Challenge and the commitments of partner organizations here.
Raina Lang is Conservation International's director of sustainable coffee markets.
By Leah Duran
Editor's note: The global seafood chain can be as murky as the ocean's depths—in fact, one in five pieces of seafood is falsely labeled. In Brazil, Conservation International is pioneering a smartphone-friendly tool that traces seafood from ocean to plate, giving consumers the power to make sustainable choices with a few finger swipes.
Human Nature sat down with Guilherme Dutra, marine program director for Conservation International Brazil, to discuss the pioneering seafood traceability program, Pesca+Sustentável (in English, Fisheries+Sustainable). Winner of the 2014 Google Brazil Social Impact Challenge, this initiative brings innovative technology directly to fishing communities in Brazil to reshape the seafood chain from the water to the consumer's plate.
Q: How does Pesca+Sustentável work?
A: Pesca+Sustentável is a traceability system based on QR codes. The QR code is printed on a piece of paper that accompanies a restaurant menu. Customers open the QR app on their smartphone and scan the code, which brings them to the program website to find out more about where their seafood came from. This way, the conscious consumer can easily choose healthy and sustainable seafood that comes from local fishing communities, benefiting the whole seafood chain.
A fisher in Brazil catches crabs in the mud around mangrove roots. This is the first step in the seafood chain. Conservation International / Priscila Steffen
Q: What does this seafood chain look like?
A: At coastal community fisheries in Brazil, Conservation International is pioneering sustainable catch of a type of crab called caranguejo-uçá, which are caught by hand in the mud around coastal mangrove forests. To sustain healthy populations of these crabs, local fishers agree to catch them when they're a certain size and not during breeding season. Once caught, the crabs are transported to suppliers and restaurants. So far, our main restaurant partner is in Belém, the capital city of the northern state of Pará.
Q: Why is "fish to plate" transparency important?
A: Today, a large portion of the seafood chain is illegally or unsustainably caught. One in five seafood labels is fake! The market is focused on who can catch more—which is unhealthy and unsustainable for fishers, fish and marine ecosystems. The market should be focused on quality: simply put, who fishes "better," with "better" meaning "using sustainable methods that are good for consumers and the environment." Our choices as consumers are critical for ocean conservation, and we must be sure about the sources of seafood we eat. Pesca+Sustentável offers consumers a simple, straightforward way to create positive change—with their wallets.
Q: How does Pesca+Sustentável advance other conservation efforts?
A: Fishermen want—and need—to protect the mangroves where the crabs live, so they can continue to fish them and sustain their families; about 10,000 families depend on crab. Transitional areas between ocean and land such as mangrove forests not only provide food for communities, but they serve as buffers from tropical storms and can store as much as 10 times the amount of carbon as the same area of land-based forest. The mangroves in northern Brazil are the largest continuous portion of this ecosystem on the whole planet, occupying an area bigger than Puerto Rico. Pesca+Sustentável trains fishers—many of whom can't read or write—to protect the environment in order to guarantee lasting fisheries, explaining the connection between overfishing and the loss of natural resources and livelihoods.
A dish featuring locally caught crab tracked using the Pesca+Sustentável QR code. Conservation International / Priscila Steffen
Q: What efforts are underway to expand Pesca+Sustentável?
A: Our goal is to make this system available for the 25 marine extractive reserves in Brazil, which would help 6,000 families who depend on small-scale fishers and would benefit directly. We are also working with Conservation International Colombia to bring this traceability system to their EcoGourmet fisheries, which also connects local fishers to suppliers and restaurants. Conservation International programs in Colombia have prevented overfishing while preserving livelihoods, primarily by using less harmful fishing techniques and having restaurants pay more for sustainably caught fish. The Pesca+Sustentável traceability approach can work for a number of other sustainable products, and many local communities can benefit from greater transparency.
Watch the video: See what "ocean to plate" transparency looks like.