Cocoa production for biodiversity conservation
The Mata Atlântica has been reduced to about 10% of its original extent. The remaining relict areas are highly fragmented and mostly smaller than 50 ha. Nevertheless, the cocoa coast of southern Bahia has remained a hotspot of biodiversity. The traditional form of agriculture is the reason why high biodiversity has been maintained despite fragmentation.
In the traditional cocoa agroforestry system, the cabruca, cocoa trees are planted and harvested within the original forest as understorey, leaving the canopy layer as shade. This form of management has created an interconnected system of primary and secondary forests. Forest-dwelling animal species can use cabrucas as corridors or habitats. The biodiversity of the Mata Atlântica could thus be conserved within the cacao region of southern Bahia.
AMAP manages about 20 hectares of cabruca at the Fazenda Bom Pastor. To ensure sustainable management, AMAP has joined the Cooperativa Cabruca, a local association of organic cocoa farmers, with the Fazenda Bom Pastor. The organic certification will be completed by the end of 2023, so AMAP will then be producing certified organic cocoa. In three years, we hope to be producing cocoa according to Demeter standards.
Five employees of AMAP manage the cabruca. In addition to harvesting, their tasks also include maintaining the cocoa trees. Maintenance of the cabruca includes removing the undergrowth, pruning the trees, and dealing with pest infestations. Cocoa seedlings are grown in the association's own greenhouse and over the next few years will replace the over-aged stock of cacao trees.
The Cabruca of Fazenda Bom Pastor is home to at least two groups of golden-headed lion tamarins. These are being scientifically observed in a long-term monitoring-project, with the support of AMAP, in order to find out which key factors are responsible for their survival in Cabrucas. In addition, the Fazenda Bom Pastor and its Cabruca are part of the EAI-Project, several study plots are situated on the farm, where biodiversity monitoring is carried out.
Closed and open cocoa flowers on a trunk
The cabruca team
News from the cabruca