Vivian Valencia


vv2188 at columbia dot edu




Traditional shade coffee agroforests are often seen as the archetypal example of environmentally friendly agricultural practices. In the face of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, coffee agroforests have been proposed as an environmentally friendly form of agriculture capable of reconciling biodiversity conservation with rural development. However, how effective are agroforests over time in conserving tree biodiversity? How closely do agroforests resemble old-growth forests? How do farmers manage trees in their agroforests and what are the effects on tree biodiversity, in particular, on endangered and old-growth forest trees? These questions have taken me to the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, in and around a Biosphere Reserve, where local communities cultivate coffee in shade coffee agroforests in a mosaic of old-growth and secondary forests, cornfields, and pasturelands. I am co-advised by Shahid Naeem and anthropologist Paige West.