Humane Society International Grant to Support Wildlife Habitat Protection Work in Central America

WASHINGTON (Sept. 17, 2008) – Humane Society International (HSI) signed a grant with the U.S. Department of State last week for $396,000 to continue work on wildlife habitat protection in Central America.
The grant will support the production of sustainable cacao, which is grown on small farms that also provide valuable wildlife habitat for animals such as woodpeckers, sloths, and pumas. Cacao beans are used to make chocolate.

HSI will be working in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua with three cooperatives. The goal of the program is for the cooperatives to meet environmentally-friendly certification requirements, thereby enhancing their marketing efforts and the biodiversity in the cooperatives and surrounding areas. HSI’s program trains the cooperative members to conduct wildlife inventories. The cooperatives have already cataloged at least 43 mammal, 40 bird and 120 plant species living within and around the cacao farms.   
Uses of the new grant money include:

◗ Training producers on certification requirements for different sets of environmentally-friendly certification standards.
◗ Technical support to improve productivity and quality of cacao (such as trainings and manuals on pruning, organic fertilizers, etc.).
◗ Planting genetically superior trees on the cacao farms, and offering training on micrografting (combining a superior tree to an existing tree to improve the quality of the inferior tree).

“This program is beneficial to people, animals and the environment. The producers benefit from receiving increased income from their high quality cacao, and animals and the environment benefit from the protection provided for them by the producers as part of their environmentally-friendly certification.  It is truly a win-win situation,” said Marta Prado, executive director of International Trade and Development for HSI.

This grant is both a continuation and expansion upon the work HSI has been doing in the region since 2003. HSI also received a grant from the State Department to work on habitat protection through the production of sustainable cacao in 2007.

Media contact: Kristen Everett, 301-721-6440, keverett@humanesociety.org

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, the HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org

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