Ecological Function Assessment in the Colombian Andean Coffee-growing Region

Colombia (Andean Coffee-growing region)

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Sub-national
Country or countries covered Colombia
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

The Colombian coffee-region millennium ecosystem assessment was an ecological function assessment of the coffee-growing region of Colombia. This assessment was one of 33 sub-global assessments linked to the Millennium Ecosystem Asessment (MA), and it was the first ES assessment undertaken in the country. The objectives of the Colombian coffee-region assessment were to provide useful environmental information to institutions and decision-makers in the coffee-producing regions of Colombia.and also analyze information between ecosystem services, direct and indirect drivers of change, and human wellbeing. The coffee-growing region of Colombia is located on the three Andean mountain ranges between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level. It encompasses an area of more than 3.6 million hectares (sensu lato) that extends along the entire Andean region, between 1 and 12° latitude north (from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the north to the department of Nariño in the south). Coffee is grown in 605 municipalities in the country (56% of the national total), and the industry involves 420,000 households and more than half a million agricultural productive units or farms. Around 870,000 hectares were devoted to coffee production and the average coffee farm size was near 2 ha.

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

  • To undertake a spatial, temporal comparative study of several social, economic, demographic, and environmental variables at different scales, in order to highlight the direct and indirect drivers of ecosystem and human well-being change.

  • To analyse ecosystem services and human well-being of the region, in order to determine the needs and direction of sustainable development in the region.

Mandate for the assessment

Initially coordinated by two institutions: Cenicafé, the research branch of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia and the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resource Research Institute

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Mountain

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food


  • Erosion prevention

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Maintainence of genetic diversity

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


Armenteras, D., Rincón, A. & Ortiz, N. (2004) Ecological Function Assessment in the Colombian Andean Coffee-growing Region. Sub-global Assessment Working Paper. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation
  • Stakeholder consultations, Response options

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component


Key stakeholder groups engaged

National Coffee Federation

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Less than 10

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Partially available at

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Lead to a follow on project GEF funded

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Communication difficulties specially in the inter phase policy/practitioners/scientists No funding to transfer on site knowledge learnt Lack of enough interdisciplinary

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Communications Scenarios

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Fellowships/exchanges/secondments/mentoring programmes, Network and sharing experiences, Access to funding, Workshops

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

Trade offs Impacts of policies on human well being Long term monitoring social, economic and biodiversity

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Some being address in current GEF project

Additional relevant information