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What’s in a label? Rainforest-Alliance certified banana production versus non-certified conventional banana production:  
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
Wageningen University, Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Export banana production in Central and South America, Costa Rica included, is a very pesticide intensive crop, receiving a lot of negative publicity with regards human exposure to pesticides and environmental degradation. In the 1990s, the Rainforest Alliance (RA) certification scheme was established to certify banana producing farms that met a number of social, occupation health and environmental standards set by RA together with their certifying body, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The RA seal is meant to convey that bananas were produced using the Best management practices that, among other things, ensures a lower impact on the environment. This study is one of the first, independent scientific studies of the environmental impact of some of the principals set by RA and SAN. The study focuses on insect and bird diversity as an indicator of ecosystem health, and uses yellow bowl traps, pitfall traps and bird survey with audio recording point counts. Five RA certified farms, six non-RA certified farms, and five organic certified farms were sampled; five replicates of each type of insect trap were taken from inside, 30m inside, the edge and adjacent forest areas and 2 replicates were taken of audio bird recordings at inside, edge and forest sites. The data was analyzed with RDA multivariate analyses andMonte carlopermutation tests. The results showed that RA certified farms had less insect diversity when compared to non-RA certified farms and that both farm types had less insect diversity than organic farms, and that there was little difference between RA and non-RA certified farms with regards bird community composition. This study only addressed a few of the principles set forth in the certification standards and that further research needs to be done to investigate the effects of changes made as the result of other principles included in the SAN standards.

Keyword [en]
banana production, Rainforest Alliance certification, management practices, Costa Rica, insect diversity
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61856OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-61856DiVA: diva2:438180
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2011-09-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the variability in management practices on coffee and banana farms in an attempt to identify practices that reduce the environmental impact of export crop production. Different banana production systems are studied to determine their level of environmental impact. Insect sampling and bird surveys are used to assess the level of ecological quality on banana farms and their surrounding environments. The first two studies are based on interview methods and focus more on the social aspects of the production system. Paper I identifies how farmers utilize labor and herbicides in weed control practices, and found that small-scale coffee farmers overuse herbicides when their relative use of herbicides to labor to control weed densities is compared to their large-scale counterparts and small-scale organic producers. Paper II attempts to identify variability in management practices for the production of export bananas, but instead finds that there is only one type of export banana production system. However, there are lessons to be learned from organic and banana-coffee intercropping systems of production.

Papers III-V use the information gathered in the interview studies of Paper II to give context to the results from analysis of ecological indicators collected from banana farms. Paper III is a comparison of insect community composition on high-input, low-input and organic banana farms. Paper IV is an analysis of aquatic macroinvertebrate in surface water sites upstream and downstream of banana farm canal entry points. Finally, Paper V is a comparison of ecological effects of management practices between Rainforest Alliance certified farms and non-RainforestAlliancecertified farms. Results showed that low-input banana production is not as good as organic production with regards to ecological impact, but it can still make a difference when compared to high-input banana production. Rainforest Alliance certified farms, however, are not low-input systems and the changes that they make in production practices are not enough to influence the quality of the ecological system. These results are encouraging for low-input production systems, but show that standards for Rainforest Alliance certification need to be tougher in order to make an impact on ecological indicators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2011. p. 46
Keyword
Costa Rica, coffee, banana, production system, pesticides, organic, conventional, Rainforest Alliance certification
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61221 (URN)978-91-7447-349-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-10, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-09-19 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2011-09-16Bibliographically approved

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