|Location||Costa Rica, Ghana, Rwanda|
|Rainforest Alliance Project Head||Deanna Newsom, Senior Analyst of Research & Evaluation|
|Graduate Student||Rebeca de Jesus-Crespo (PhD)|
The Rainforest Alliance (RA) is an international non-profit organization that promotes sustainable livelihoods worldwide. One of RA’s key sustainability standards is the responsible use of natural resources. Agriculture and timber companies that comply with this standard and others are able to attain the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Seal, which allows them to promote their products more effectively in the growing marketplace for environmentally- and socially-conscientious goods.Wecollaborated with RA to evaluate the effectiveness of its certification strategy. Our main goal was to assist RA in the implementation of environmental conservation criteria that will ensure the long-term success of their certification initiative in protecting streams. This project was designed to increase understanding of how best management practices (related to RA certification strategies) actually work at protecting water resources in high-elevation humid tropical areas. PhD student Rebeca de Jesus-Crespo led this effort by evaluating RA’s coffee certification requirements. The focus of her dissertation was to assess the efficiency of riparian buffers and shade tree reforestation as management practices for protecting the bio-integrity of streams that drain coffee farms in Costa Rica. As part of her collaboration with RA, Rebeca also developed a monitoring protocol that RA can apply to keep track of their program’s impact on water conservation. RA personnel working in coffee-growing regions of Rwanda and cocoa-growing regions of Ghana have applied this monitoring protocol and tested its feasibility as a possible requirement under RA certification and technical assistance programs.
The overall goal of this collaboration was to use empirical data to evaluate RA’s impact on stream conservation and to establish standardized tools for water quality monitoring that are applicable to the wide range of activities and countries influenced by RA’s initiatives.