As ecological change in African countries increases, so too does the need for baseline information with which to direct ecosystem conservation and restoration activities. However, data is often scarce in order to create further research and development programs. The project is an evaluation of the livelihood of Gedeo indigenous agroforestry farmers in South Ethiopia. Planting young coffee in the understory of native trees is unique and one of the last examples of cultural heritage in the world. The production system protects the environment, maintains biodiversity and at the same time gives income to small scale growers. There is strong evidence that the system has been sustainable through the last 5000 years in the montane rainforest area (UNESCO, 2012). As population increases the pressure on the highly-diverse forest grows. Fragmentation of land holdings, forest clearing and greater reliance on cash crops are the first indicators of change. The first purpose is a primary description of the highly diverse shaded coffee agroforestry systems by species composition and spatial arrangement. Through observation and a survey of socio economic factors including livelihood, income and migration will be considered. Population issues will be determined to estimate their future impact on the environment. The outcome of this research will provide best practise of the coffee agroforestry system, while exploring the potential of income generation activities to protect farmers from poverty.