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Chocolate Can Save the Planet -- Hurrah!
Emily Gertz, 20 Nov 07

If you're looking for an excuse to enjoy chocolate (and organic, Fair Trade, or contributions to good works aren't enough), seek no further: the cacao tree can help fight climate disruption. Seems that in eastern Brazil, there's a cacao plantation that's being maintained as a multi-canopied rainforest, creating a valuable agricultural crop while also maintaining the rainforest's ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As reported by Joanne Silberner on National Public Radio,

Dario Ahnert, a plant expert at the State University of Santa Cruz in Eastern Brazil...says farmers need an incentive to save the remaining forest, and he hopes chocolate will be that incentive.

Chocolate used to be a huge industry here, but in the past two decades, plant disease and low prices in the world market for cocoa beans devastated the industry. Farmers turned to other ways of making a living, including logging trees or burning the forest for farmland or pasture. When the nutrients in the soil were used up, the land was abandoned.

Ahnert wants to persuade farmers to return to chocolate farming and preserve the forest.

Cacao producer Joao Tavernes is profiled in the piece. A fouth-generation grower, he and his family have 2,200 acres of rainforest planted with cacao trees. Tavernes has restored wild trees as well; although doing so reduces the total acreage of income-generating cacao, Tavernes finds this cultivation technique signficantly reduces his problems with insect infestations or disease. And the crop may ultimately be more valuable: he can get a premium price for ustainably farmed cacao beans, and there's the promise of selling carbon credits on the horizon.

Via the Society of Environmental Journalists

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The rainforest (and any other forests and woodlands, and so forth) destruction is only happening because of consumer choices in richer countries to begin with. People wanting cheap meats and products containing new timber.

Posted by: zupakomputer on 23 Nov 07



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