The Harena Cloud Forest of Ethiopia in Critical Danger
The Harenna Cloud Forest of Ethiopia in Critical Danger

It is Home to Wild Arabica Beans

March 3 – 2021

Coffee Geography Magazine

There are few places in Ethiopia or the world quite like the Harenna Forest. Spread across the southern slopes of the Bale Mountains, it is the second-largest stand of moist tropical forest in Ethiopia and the largest cloud forest in the country.

The Bale Mountains in the Oromia Region of southeast Ethiopia, south of the Awash River, are part of the Ethiopian Highlands. They include Tullu Demtu, the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia (4377 meters), and Mount Batu (4307 meters). The Weyib River, a tributary of the Jubba River, rises in these mountains east of Goba.


Coffees from Bale Mountain are being natural-processed and exhibiting all of the wonderful traits that top quality Ethiopian naturals tend to have: bright acidity and juicy fruit notes. This lot gives a tropical taste of tangy papaya, as well as a strong presence of strawberry sweetness. 


The Tracker satellite acquired this natural-color image of the forest on February 5, 2021. The forest grows in highland areas at elevations of 1400 to 3200 meters (4,600 to 10,500 feet) above sea level. From the mostly treeless Sanetti Plateau, an escarpment drops sharply into a series of forested ecosystems defined by altitude, including areas where bamboo, tree heather, fig, fern pines, hagenia, and wild coffee thrive. Forest wildlife includes monkeys, baboons, bushbucks, warthogs, lions, leopards, hyena, and wild dogs.


While there are dense tracts of forest south of the Sanetti Plateau, a Global Forest Watch analysis of satellite data indicates that there was significant deforestation along roads and stream valleys in Hawo, Kumbi, Likimisa Bokore, and Soriba between 2000 and 2019. The data also show many small-scale forest clearings along the escarpment. Common causes for deforestation in this area include charcoal production, firewood collection, and clearing for agriculture. The analysis is led by a team of University of Maryland scientists and derived from data on tree cover loss collected by Landsat satellites.

Farmers who care the forest are almost exclusively responsible for all commercially-available beans. Ethiopia is home to some of the last remaining wild arabica plants (according to a 2017 study, nearly 60 percent of the world’s wild coffee is under threat of extinction).

Farmers living in the area depend on the crop for income, and approximately 3,000 individuals gather coffee cherries from the Harenna forest.

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