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Chocolate: It's for the Birds

By Karen Bourque November 15, 2019

Born from a passion to protect a global biodiversity hotspot in the Dominican Republic, VCE colleagues at Zorzal Cacao are using chocolate as a culinary force for international conservation.

Here at VCE, we’re excited to join Zorzal in spreading the word about this new initiative to protect critical Bicknell’s Thrush wintering habitat. An estimated 90% of the global population of Bicknell’s Thrush – which currently numbers 120,000 or fewer birds worldwide – overwinters on Hispaniola, the shared island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Sadly, deforestation of the island’s vulnerable forested habitats is severe and ongoing. Racing against time, VCE has worked closely with local conservationists, students, and amateur ornithologists to build a community of ecological stewards dedicated to finding creative solutions to preserve Hispaniola’s unique biodiversity.

Zorzal Cacao is one of those stewards. Committed to protecting biodiversity on the 1,019-acre Reserva Privada Zorzal, their conservation efforts focus specifically on habitat restoration and climate change mitigation, community-based bird monitoring, and private reserve policy.

The goals of this project are three-fold: protect prime Bicknell’s Thrush habitat in the Dominican Republic’s shrinking wet broadleaf forests; raise awareness of the challenges faced by this rare and vulnerable migratory songbird; and demonstrate that environmentally responsible business practices can benefit both wildlife and the bottom line.

We are issuing a “call to arms” to you, our supporters and wildlife enthusiasts, to take a simple yet powerful action for these birds.

5310, , BITH Zapoten Pedro Genaro, BITH Zapoten Pedro Genaro, , image/jpeg, https://vtecostudies.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/BITH-Zapoten-Pedro-Genaro.jpg, 4184, 2790, Array, Array
A Bicknell’s Thrush calls from a tree fern in wet broadleaf forest of the Dominican Republic. © Pedro Genaro
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Drying cacao / © Zorzal Cacao

How can you help make this initiative wildly successful?

Visit the Kickstarter page and make a pledge, then spread the word far and wide! Donations to this campaign will fund critical conservation research (including VCE’s ongoing collaborative work in the region and that of local conservation groups), and the creation of a Visitor Center at Reserva Privada Zorzal. The visitor center will allow Zorzal Cacao to expand its conservation education and outreach programming to larger, more diverse audiences.

Please help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 by January 6, 2020. Together we will build upon the strong conservation foundation we’ve laid to ensure a brighter future for Bicknell’s Thrush and other vulnerable migratory species.

Eat more cacao. It’s good for you and the birds!

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