It is necessary to understand that there are different types of shade plantation and sun plantation.
Rustic coffee: Coffee plants are grown in native forests. Since they are planted at a low density, their impact on the natural environment is virtually nil.
Traditional polyculture: Similar to rustic coffee, the plants are also planted in native forests. However, other plants with economic values are also deliberately planted. Therefore, sometimes traditional polyculture can be more diversified than rustic coffee.
Commercial culture: The number of shading species (the number of types of plants which are grown to provide shade) are reduced, resulting in the coffee plants being grown at a higher density.
Specialised shade: This plantation type usually contains only one or two shade species. More coffee plants are grown on the same area of land.
Open sun: This plantation type has no shading at all. Coffee plants are densely packed to maximize land usage.
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental Media Services
The Trade and Environment Database
INeedCoffee – articles by Dr. Anand Titius and Geeta N. Pereira