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March 17, 2010

HSI Supports Wildlife Protection in Costa Rica

Promotes environmentally-friendly cacao production program through growers fair in Talamanca

BRI BRI, Costa Rica — Within the framework of its environmentally-friendly cacao production program, Humane Society International and Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Talamanca are hosting a Cacao Fair to promote wildlife conservation and environmentally responsible agricultural practices. The fair will take place in the community of Bri Bri, the capitol of Talamanca canton in the province of Limón, on March 19.

"The purpose of the fair is to raise awareness among farmers and consumers alike about the possibility of implementing sound production practices that guarantee economic growth in harmony with the environment," said Jennifer Dinsmore, director of HSI-Latin America.

Since its inception in 2003, HSI's cacao program has encouraged small-scale cacao producers to improve the conditions of their farms to ensure the protection of the natural habitat of various species of wildlife, while benefitting financially from increased quality and efficiency.

The theme of the fair, "Production that Protects Biodiversity," promotes the active participation of the producers involved in HSI's program and their families. It will present lectures and informational stands from various farmer associations and cooperatives, non-governmental organizations, and government representatives, in addition to drawing, theater and folk song contests, among other activities. All are designed to educate the communities and the general public about the importance of protecting the wildlife that thrives in and around cacao farms.

Facts:

  • 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 almost entirely wiped it out, prompting many producers to abandon their cacao farms. HSI's program aims to regenerate old cacao farms and improve their productivity in a sustainable manner, protecting the wildlife within.
  • 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.
  • Participating producers have cataloged at least 190 species of animals and plants, such as the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), the great curassow (Crax rubra) and the green and black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) among the many CITES protected species living within and around the cacao farms in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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