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Bird Friendly Farm Criteria

A group of people working on a shade coffee farm in Nicaragua

 
Concept Criteria
Height of canopy

≥12 meters for the canopy of the stratum made by the native “backbone” species (usually an Inga spp.)

Foliage cover

≥40 percent, measured during dry season after pruning

Floristic diversity of trees and wood shrubs ≥10 woody species (in addition to the backbone species). At least 10 of these should represent 1 percent or more of all individuals sampled, and be dispersed throughout the coffee holding. Backbone species must be native to region.
Total floristic diversity

The sum of all woody and herbaceous species counted in the sampling.

Structural diversity

The “architecture” or profile of the coffee farm should show evidence of some layers or strata—preferably three. 
1. The layer formed by the backbone species and other trees of that size;
2. The stratum of taller, emergent species, comprised of native trees of the natural forest;
3. The stratum beneath the principal canopy (that of the backbone species), made up of shrubs and small trees or plants, like Musa spp.and citrus. The emergent and understory strata each should ideally account for 20 percent of the total foliage volume present. The remaining 60 percent of the foliage volume should be that of the principal canopy (backbone species and trees of the same height as the backbone species).

Leaf litter Should be present; no minimum percentage required, but, together with living ground cover, soil needs protecting (as with organic criteria).
Weeds/herbs/forbs

Should be present; no minimum percentage required.

Living fences Where appropriate and feasible, should be present.
Buffer zones along waterways Should exist and be composed of native vegetation. Along streams they should measure ≥5 meters wide (one each side); for rivers they should be ≥10 meters wide.
Visual characterization (gestalt)

Should qualify at least for the category “traditional polyculture” (the more diverse category of the polyculture systems).

Organic certification Must have current organic certification by a USDA-accredited certification agency