BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 46

FORESTS OF HOPE Eat chocolate, save a rainforest Sounds too good to be true? A project is stopping deforestation and community exploitation in Sierra Leone through the power of cocoa Katie Sims Project Manager - Gola Rainforest Cocoa bessay Sannoh and Bockerie Sama are standing in a shady rainforest amongst the whooping sounds of hornbills and leafy cocoa trees. They’re at the edge of the Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone, where for generations thousands of cocoa trees have been grown by their people – the Goleagorbu, small-scale farmers. While chatting and joking they break open the g 46 Gola Cocoa team Photo R Anstead / Twin 0 White-necked Rockfowl Picathartes gymnocephalus Photo Michael Andersen 7 Gbessay Sannoh Photo R Anstead / Twin 3 large, golden-yellow cocoa pods with smooth- handled wooden clubs. Inside the pod, what looks like rows of white teeth are revealed – it has been a productive day. This white is cocoa’s sweet mucilage, which is then removed by sticky hands to expose the prize beneath: the beans. These then go into large woven baskets or wooden boxes and are covered with banana leaves, where they are left to ferment, releasing birdlife • apr-jun 2018