Gusties Plant Trees in Ecuador … for the Cafeteria?!?

Posted on February 10th, 2011 by

So what does the Gustavus cafeteria have in common with the Milpe bird sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Andes?

Well, the connection works like this.  Gustavus buys its coffee from Tiny Footprint Coffee.  Tiny Footprint is a Minnesota-based company dedicated to being “carbon-negative.”  This means not only reducing the pollution and waste associated with growing coffee, but also in using the coffee business to leverage resources for reforestation.  When you buy Tiny Footprint coffee, some of the funds go to reforestation.  But in addition to that, a steady supply of customers makes Tiny Footprint an attractive investment for businesses looking for someone to reforest on their behalf.

In January 2011, the interim experience course Bio 146 Natural History of Ecuador and the Galapagos travelled from Gustavus to Ecuador.  There 14 Gusties (studying ES, Bio, Geology, HES, Psychology and more) actually helped plant trees in the Tiny Footprint reforestation site.  The trees were several different native species that will add to the forests already re-established.  These trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, further reducing the total carbon dioxide waste caused by Tiny Footprint’s coffee growers.  However, the reforestation is displacing local cattle pastures that were only marginally profitable (if at all) for the owners.  Removal of cattle greatly reduces the carbon produced in the area.

And it’s not all about trees.  The reforestation is coordinated with the Milpe Bird Sanctuary, which provides habitat for the amazing birds of the Ecuadorian cloudforests near Mindo, Ecuador.

Maybe it is weird that coffee bought in Minnesota funds the purchase of land and baby trees in Ecuador, but it shouldn’t really be surprising on our shrinking globe.  But it is wonderful that some Gustavus students actually got to plant them, learn about reforestation and climate change, and have a lot of fun in the process.  Go Gusties!

The pictures included were taken by Bio 146 students and persons from Milpe.

 

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