Shade Grown Coffee, Not just for the birds


                   Imagine a lush plot of rainforest, filled with a vast and diverse community of fauna and flora, but contraire to popular believe, this is actually a productive shade grown organic coffee farm. Usually when one thinks of agriculture, thoughts of fertilizers and pesticides slip through our mind, and unfortunately these thoughts are correct, new age coffee farming embraces all the things sustainability doesn’t simply put. Truth is, conserving our rainforests and biodiversity of our planet is only a sip away with shade grown coffee. With the current state of deforestation and monoculture operations, the sustainability of these systems isn’t present, that’s why shade grown coffee is a viable alternative which can reduce the harmful effects of sun grown coffee. The coffee plant, naturally being an understory plant which requires shade offered by trees to protect its leaves from browning and burning. Over time through selectively breeding the coffee bush, farmers were able to develop a coffee strain which can be grown in full sun which allowed a more profitable and larger harvest. This growing technique though profitable to industry, does not include the many external costs produced such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity of song birds. By practicing sustainable agroforestry such as shade grown coffee, the benefits far outweigh the cons derived from costs and smaller yield (Donald, P). With a multiple-phased approach through converting current coffee monoculture lands to shade grown coffee and by encouraging new farming plantations to be established in the rainforest responsibly, we can mitigate the many harmful effects of sun grown coffee and ensure the health of one of earths most precious and productive biomes.

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Lighting the Fire: Changing the views on prescribed burns on the west coast through education

Olivia Gould,Christina Baker,Erika Harimoto


Figure 1

Figure 1


The little girl cowers in the living room. The flames rise higher and higher. Every snap and crackle sounds like a thunderclap. In her fear she pulls her blanket over her eyes and hides behind the couch, desperately trying to get away from the scene in front of her. If she closes her eyes, maybe all will be well, but she can’t keep them closed. Morbid curiosity forces her eyes open. The flames leap. The timber cracks. The girl screams. “Run Bambi, ruuuuunnnnnnnnnn.” Continue Reading

Amending Biomass Electricity Generation with Transgenic Trees


When asked what she remembers about the 1973 Oil Embargo, UMass Alumni Linda Sarkisian laughs and says, “I remember being stuck at school because my parents did not have enough gas to pick me up” (L. Sarkisian, personal communication, November 12, 2013). Linda was eighteen when the Arab countries cut off oil exports to the U.S. in response to U.S. support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War (Koch, 2013). She bitterly recalls her parents cancelling the family trip to Florida out of fear they would be stranded without gas. Her parents knew about the lines of cars across the country idling for hours, their drivers anxiously waiting for their turn at the pump. Service stations were decorated with hand-made signs that read “Regular Customers Only” or simply “No Gas” (L. Sarkisian, personal communication, November 12, 2013). The crisis exposed our deep dependence on fossil fuels and forever changed how the U.S. viewed energy production (Koch, 2013). Continue Reading

Using Prescribed Burns in New England to Create Early Sucessional Habitat

Kate Emond

Halilu Daraja

Mallory Durkee


Biodiversity within New England is a cornerstone of our regions identity. The beauty of our landscapes and wildlife inspire and enrich our lives. Although many may not readily appreciate it, biodiversity provides us with many of the things that sustain our lives. By maintaining a wide range of biodiversity, both humans and wildlife are offered a range of ecosystem services. Changes in biodiversity can influence the supply of ecosystem services and displace wildlife that depends on certain habitats. One threat facing biodiversity and wildlife within New England is the loss of early successional habitat. “Early successional habitats include weedy areas, grasslands, old fields or pastures, shrub thickets and young forest” (NRCS, 2010). Continue Reading