chapter  9
16 Pages

Cacao and biodiversity

The historical development of a biodiversity landscape
ByIvette Perfecto, John Vandermeer, Angus Wright

The cacao-growing region has been designated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the ten most important ‘hotspots’ for biodiversity conservation in the world because of the conjoined circumstances of enormously high and significant biodiversity and the powerful forces that could quickly destroy that diversity. The cacao tree is a native of the rainforest, with one line of descent coming from the Amazon and another from the tropical forests of Central America and southern Mexico. The plantations where a significant portion of the forest was left in place or allowed to regrow came to be called cabruca cacao systems. One of the most influential enemies of cabruca was a Dutch agronomist, Leo Zehntner, with experience in the cacao plantations of Dutch East India. The most important reason for the survival of the cabrucas was almost certainly that it was the lowest-cost way to produce cacao.