Smithsonian Institution Convenes Experts To Discuss Cocoa's Future

March 25, 1998

The Smithsonian Institution will bring together ecologists, cocoa production experts, cocoa industry representatives and other experts interested in the economics of and the variety of life around small family cocoa farms for a "Sustainable Cocoa Workshop." The meeting, which is funded by Mars Incorporated, will be held March 29 through April 2 at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)in Panama. A diverse group of people will address the positive role traditional cocoa farming plays in the tropics, and the issues, opportunities and research needed to ensure the future of ecologically sustainable cocoa production.

"As the developing world faces an alarming decrease in forests, some traditional shade-covered agroforest systems, including cocoa, which is a rainforest tree traditionally grown under a canopy, provide ecologists with hope," said Thomas Lovejoy, a noted environmentalist and director of the Institute for Conservation Biology at Smithsonian. "The success of traditional cocoa farms may be critical for maintaining biological diversity and providing sustainable incomes for small family farmers in the tropics."

Three divisions at the Smithsonian, all concerned with conservation, are involved in this effort, including the recently formed Smithsonian Institute for Conservation Biology. Other non-Smithsonian participants include representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, World Wildlife Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, USAID, World Bank, the American Cocoa Research Institute and the cocoa and chocolate industry.

The workshop was developed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, a leader in examining the relationship between human land management and biological conservation, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, which has promoted basic and original research in tropical marine and terrestrial organisms and human ecology for more than half a century.
For more information about this conference, visit the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center Web site

Media only:
In Washington, DC - Ruth Stolk 202-633-9799
In Panama - Georgina de Alba 507-227-6022, ext. 2275

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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