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Global Ideas

The protective powers of chocolate

In Sierra Leone, where communities are recovering from years of hard times, chocolate could just be an essential ingredient in the recipe for a sustainable future. And it could even save local wildlife.

Watch video 07:26

Sierra Leone: cacao as a conservation tool

Project goal: Sierra Leone has lost 95 percent of its original forests. The vision of Gola Rainforest National Park, and the Greater Gola Landscape in which it sits, is to conserve the country's last and largest remaining forest and protect its unique habitats and rich biodiversity while directly benefitting communities at the forest edge.
Biodiversity: Pygmy hippo, chimpanzees, several types of Duikers
Park area: 71,070 hectares
Funding partners: Darwin initiative, Comic Relief, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, Basel Zoo, Gola REDD

Environmental problems in Sierra Leone were long overshadowed by bigger ones, not least a decade and a half of civil war. Often people simply can’t afford to protect the environment. In a bid to survive, some people log trees, hunt bush game or clear land to dig holes for diamond mining. Gola Rainforest National park, the largest in Sierra Leone, is a tranquil oasis and home to chimpanzees, rare birds and the elusive pygmy hippo. Park staff are aware that conservation and development go hand-in-hand, so are establishing a network of farmers in nearby villages to export their cocoa beans. The cacao business doesn’t only boost the farmers income, the cocoa trees also provide food and shelter for wild animals.  

A film by Ruth Krause and Björn Kietzmann

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