September 22, 2009
HSI Runs Workshops on Cacao Habitat Protection
Cacao Trees Provide Canopy for Birds, Many Other Animals
BOCAY, Nicaragua — Humane Society International is having an environmental education workshop in the rural town of Bocay in Nicaragua as part of HSI's environmentally friendly cacao production program. The workshops are aimed at schoolchildren in seven schools in Bocay and take place Sept. 21-26.
The goal of the workshops is to contribute to growing a culture of environmental awareness that respects the immeasurable value of the wildlife that thrives in and around the cacao farms. A Teacher's Manual was developed by HSI for the workshops, and the schoolchildren will also receive a coloring and activity book, "El Cacaotal: Riqueza y Abundancia Natural" (The Cacao Plantation: Natural Wealth and Abundance).
HSI launched its cacao program in 2003 with funding from the United States Department of State. It encourages small Central American cacao producers to improve the conditions of their farms and benefit financially from increased quality and efficiency, while ensuring the protection of the natural habitat of various species of wildlife through sustainable production practices.
Cacao trees provide canopy for migratory and endemic birds and many other animals. The educational component of the cacao program is designed to teach the children who live in and around the farms about the importance of protecting these birds and animals and their habitat.
"HSI's cacao program works with the entire community — cacao farmers and their families," said Marta Prado, executive director of International Trade and Development for HSI. "By teaching the children, we hope to create a program that is sustainable in both an environmental and community sense."
- Cacao production is one of Central America's earliest agricultural practices, dating to pre-Columbian times. Cacao beans are used to make chocolate, among other products.
- Central America's traditional cacao production lasted through the 1970s, when a disease struck the region and wiped it out almost entirely. Consequently, most producers temporarily abandoned cacao production.
- More than half of Central America's cacao production takes place in isolated, rural areas on small-scale subsistence farms of fewer than 12 acres.
- Cacao farms are home to many protected species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Participating producers have cataloged at least 43 mammal, 40 bird and 120 plant species, such as the two-toed sloth, the toucan and the howler monkey, living within and around the cacao farms.
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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at hsi.org.