How chocolate is saving rainforest

14 March 2016 | Cool Earth

Cool Earth’s Asháninka partners in Peru have a surprising weapon in the fight against loggers: chocolate.

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In Peru’s Ene Valley, a remote part of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s finest variety of cacao grows underneath the shade of the canopy. Making up a fraction of the world’s chocolate production, Criollo is the most valued cocoa bean, and demands a high price from chocolatiers.

The Ene valley is one of the world’s most at-risk areas, threatened by the illegal trades of logging and coca, which together could destroy the rainforest. Instead, cultivating and selling cacao has doubled local income for Cool Earth’s Asháninka partners, earning them far more than logging could ever pay, and helping to keep the forest safe.

Cultivating this crop also ensures the health of the forest, as it needs large established trees shading it to flourish.

With OVO’s support, Cool Earth is helping the Asháninka build sustainable livelihoods from these most magical of beans. 

OVO’s partner villages have spent the last five years turning cacao cultivation into the main source of income for 174 families. Tools and seedlings, and the provision of a cacao technician, have produced the best crop yet.

Sergio Capeshi is President of Ayompari, the Cacao Co-operative that is out-pricing forest destruction:

“What I love most about my role is being able to support my Asháninka brothers. Cacao is vital for us. It gives a household sustainability – money for health, education, food for our children. This year we have more growers, which is good but also a challenge. Tools have helped our production but it’s the capacity building that makes the real difference – that’s what is really helping us get the best quality from the bean.”

The beans have been shipped to Cornwall, to be tempered, aged and crafted into highly desirable bars of chocolate by Chocolarder: one of the best bean to bar chocolatiers in the UK. 

Chocolate contains beneficial minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium, as well as phenylethylamine, which encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins. So there are plenty of good reasons for eating it, quite apart from the fact that it’s delicious.

And now it’s helping to save the rainforest.

If you want to be one of the first to taste the chocolate you helped to make, you can pre-order it on the Cool Earth website now. It will be ready to ship just after Easter.