Deforestation and erosion are two of the greatest environmental problems facing the tropics. To prevent these from happening, priority should be given to planting fast-growing trees such as the coffee, lemon and orange trees.
The coffee tree blossoms immediately after the dry season, and then drops its leaves – leaves that are particularly rich in nutrients and minerals that enrich the soil. This natural fertilizer improves the fertility of the soil. Coffee trees and other trees planted beside them serve as natural windbreaks and provide shade. These trees drop more leaves than all other tropical plants, and are more quickly absorbed – first by the soil as fertiliser and then by the trees.
The cypress and pine trees planted around coffee plantations to provide shade also provide nesting for many varieties of birds whose habitats have been destroyed by indiscriminate clear cutting.
The leaves that fall off the coffee trees during heavy tropical rains during the rainy season create a protective layer over the soil that helps prevent erosion. In the dry season, this layer of coffee leaves keeps the soil moist and provides the ideal conditions for all tree growth.