Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2237–2244 | Cite as

Biodiversity conservation in cocoa production landscapes: an overview

  • Götz SchrothEmail author
  • Celia A. Harvey
Original Paper


Cocoa agroforests that retain a floristically diverse and structurally complex shade canopy have the potential to harbour significant levels of biodiversity, yet few studies have documented the plant and animal species occurring within these systems or within landscapes dominated by cocoa production. In this special issue, we bring together nine studies from Latin America, Africa and Asia that document the contribution of cocoa agroforestry systems to biodiversity conservation, and explore how the design, management and location of these systems within the broader landscape influence their value as habitats, resources and biological corridors. Tree diversity within the cocoa production systems is variable, depending on management, cultural differences, location and farm history, among other factors. Animal diversity is typically highest in those cocoa agroforests that have high plant diversity, structurally complex canopies, and abundant surrounding forest cover. In general, both plant and animal diversity within cocoa agroforests is greater than those of other agricultural land uses, but lower than in the original forest habitat. There are several emerging threats to biodiversity conservation within cocoa production landscapes, including the loss of remaining forest cover, the simplification of cocoa shade canopies and the conversion of cocoa agroforestry systems to other agricultural land uses with lower biodiversity value. To counter these threats and conserve biodiversity over the long-term, land management should focus on conserving native forest habitat within cocoa production landscapes, maintaining or restoring floristically diverse and structurally complex shade canopies within cocoa agroforests, and retaining other types of on-farm tree cover to enhance landscape connectivity and habitat availability.


Animal diversity Cocoa agroforestry Community composition Landscape conservation  Natural forest habitat Plant diversity 



We would like to thank Professor David Hawksworth for his support for this special issue and our referees (Inge Armbrecht, Rebecca Ashley Asare, Jim Barborak, Julio Baumgarten, Merijn Bos, Thomas Brooks, Jacques Delabie, Tom Dietsch, Robert Ewers, Sam Fujisaka, Jefferson Hall, Robert Keys, Jeremy Lichstein, Robert Nasi, Stacy Philpott, Sara Scherr and Teja Tscharntke) for their thorough revisions of the papers in this collection. C.A. Harvey gratefully acknowledges financial support from the CORRIDOR project (INCO-Dev 517644) and the Bank of the Netherlands Partnership Program with the World Bank.


  1. Faria DR, Laps R, Baumgarten J, Cetra M (2006) Bat and bird assemblages from forests and shade cacao plantations in two contrasting landscapes in the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil. Biodivers Conserv 15:587–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB, Manning AD (2005) Biodiversity, ecosystem function and resilience: ten guiding principles for commodity production landscapes. Frontier Ecol Environ 4:80–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Harvey CA, Tucker N, Estrada A (2004) Live fences, isolated trees and windbreaks: tools for conserving biodiversity in fragmented tropical landscapes? In: Schroth G, Fonseca GAB, Harvey CA, Gascon C, Vasconcelos HL, Izac AMN (eds) Agroforestry and biodiversity conservation in tropical landscapes. Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp 261–289Google Scholar
  4. Harvey CA, González J, Somarriba E (2006a) Dung beetle and terrestrial mammal diversity in forests, indigenous agroforestry systems and plantain monocultures in Talamanca, Costa Rica. Biodivers Conserv 15:555–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Harvey CA, Medina A, Merlo Sánchez D, Vílchez S, Hernández B, Sáenz JC, Maes JM, Casanoves F, Sinclair FL (2006b) Patterns of animal diversity associated with different forms of tree cover retained in agricultural landscapes. Ecol Appl 16:1986–1999CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Johns ND (1999) Conservation in Brazil’s chocolate forest: the unlikely persistence of the traditional cocoa agroecosystem. Environ Manage 23:31–47CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Lass T (2004) Balancing cocoa production and consumption. In: Flood J, Murphy R (eds) Cocoa futures—a source book on some important issues facing the cocoa industry. CABI-FEDERACAFÉ, USDA, Chinchiná, Colombia, pp 8–15Google Scholar
  8. Moguel P, Toledo VM (1999) Biodiversity conservation in traditional coffee systems of Mexico. Conserv Biol 13:11–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Perfecto I, Rice R, Greenberg R, van der Voorst ME (1996) Shade coffee: a disappearing refuge for biodiversity. BioScience 46:598–608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Rice R, Greenberg R (2000) Cacao cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity. Ambio 29:167–173Google Scholar
  11. Ruf F, Schroth G (2004) Chocolate forests and monocultures: a historical review of cocoa growing and its conflicting role in tropical deforestation and forest conservation. In: Schroth G, da Fonseca GAB, Harvey CA, Gascon C, Vasconcelos HL, Izac AMN (eds) Agroforestry and biodiversity conservation in tropical landscapes. Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp 107–134Google Scholar
  12. Schroth G, Harvey C, Vincent G (2004) Complex agroforests: their structure, diversity, and potential role in landscape conservation. In: Schroth G, da Fonseca GAB, Harvey CA, Gascon C, Vasconcelos HL, Izac AMN (eds) Agroforestry and biodiversity conservation in tropical landscapes. Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp 227–260Google Scholar
  13. Suatunce P, Somarriba E, Harvey C, Finegan B (2003) Composición florística y estructura de bosques y cacaotales en los territorios indígenas de Talamanca, Costa Rica. Agroforestería en las Américas 10:31–35Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Conservation InternationalArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture and AgroforestryCentro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Ensenañza (CATIE)TurrialbaCosta Rica

Personalised recommendations