In 2003 CEPCO began working in the area of environmental services. One of the first steps in this direction was to begin efforts to recognize all the environmental benefits that the coffee zones provided: that is, to become recognized as providers of benefits to the environment.
Environmental benefits are those that support ecosystems naturally or through their sustainable management.
Natural ecosystems are forests, jungles, seas, and so on. Human beings, through their exploitation of these places, have modified or altered ecosystems and created others, such as forest plantations and agro-forestry crops. The coffee zones are also ecosystems that have the characteristics of agricultural fields, forest and jungle; in coffee ecosystems, coffee cultivation (agricultural) is associated with shade trees, shrubs and plants (forest or jungle), so technicians regarded it as an agroforestry ecosystem.
The main environmental services provided by the coffee zones are:
Capturing carbon, pollutants, and natural components.
Increasing water quality and quantity.
Controlling erosion, as well as generating, preserving, and restoring soils.
Moderating or regulating the climate.
Protecting and preserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and life forms.
Providing scenery and recreation.
Carbon sequestration and oxygen generation.
The vegetation of the coffee zones, in the process of photosynthesis, takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and releases oxygen (O2). CO2, along with other gases, plays an important role in regulating climate change, the greenhouse effect, and depletion of the ozone layer;
Provision of water services or hydrological and erosion control.
The vegetation of the coffee zones helps improve rainwater capture: cushioning the impact of rainfall, so that it reaches the ground at a lower speed, thus preventing erosion; this allows the water to soak into the ground, which helps recharge aquifers; it slows the speed of runoff, which prevents or reduces soil erosion and reduces sediment load; this water is cleaner when it reaches streams and rivers and can be used by the inhabitants of settlements in the lowlands.
Protection and conservation of biodiversity.
In the coffee zones, there are a large number and variety of plant and animal species.
All these services are possible because the maintenance and preservation of coffee plantations, using organic and sustainable production techniques, which are developed by indigenous small producers living in them, many of which are associated with the CEPCO.