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Illegally grown coffee inside one of the world's most important national parks

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Coffee lovers the world over are unknowingly drinking coffee that was illegally grown inside one of the world's most important national parks for tigers, elephants and rhinos, according to an investigative report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Illegally grown coffee from Indonesia is mixed with legally grown coffee beans and sold to such companies as Kraft Foods and Nestle among other major companies in the United States and abroad.

WWF tracked the illegal cultivation of coffee inside Indonesia's remote Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBS) all the way through its export routes to multinational coffee companies and the shelves of grocery stores across the United States, Europe and Asia using satellite imaging, interviews with coffee farmers and traders, and by monitoring coffee trade routes.

Trade of illegal coffee is possible because neither exporters nor importers have any mechanisms in place to prevent the illegal beans from entering the supply chains. Bukit Barisan Selatan, a World Heritage Site on the southern tip of Sumatra Island, is one of the few protected areas where Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist. It has already lost nearly 30% of its forest cover to illegal agriculture, most of which is for coffee production.

Indonesia is the world s second-largest exporter of robusta, a kind of bean often used in instant and packaged coffee sold in supermarkets. At least half the country s coffee is exported through the port of Lampung, adjacent to the national park. WWFs investigation found farmers growing coffee on more than 173 square miles of park land (about two-thirds the size of Chicago) and producing more than 19,600 tons of coffee there each year. Most wildlife has already abandoned the sections of the park that have been illegally converted to coffee plantations. Illegally grown coffee is exported to at least 52 countries.