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Are coffee plants at risk of extinction?

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Experts at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have published the results of a study that cast a worrying light on the future of coffee plants worldwide. In the worst case scenario some now common varieties used to make coffee could even go extinct.

The wild varieties of coffee plants are being threatened by a global demand for coffee and deforestation of large swathes of territories where they grow. Wild arabica, the origin of the world’s most popular coffee, has already been classified as an endangered species in its natural habitats in Sudan and Ethiopia.

The scientists studied all 124 species of wild coffee and found that 60 percent faced extinction based on the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Aaron Davis, who led the research said, “Unless we preserve wild species in the future our coffee may cost more and it may not taste so good.” He added that the threats to wild coffee species could begin to affect production in less than 20 years.

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