We must act now to protect the environment. Luker Chocolate is paving the way for the cocoa industry to take action.
Find below some of the actions we are taking to protect the Tropical Dry Forest in Colombia:
The cocoa industry has a responsibility to protect the environment. As part of our commitment to producing sustainable cocoa, we strive not only to protect the forests and wildlife living around and on Luker’s Farms but empower farmers to be the keepers of these essential ecosystems. We have always been a company with strong ties to cocoa-growing communities in Colombia. True to our purpose, we created The Chocolate Dream, a collaborative sustainability plan with a long-term vision to improve social well-being, protect the environment and increase the income of producers and communities. Through collaborative strategies, we seek to transform cocoa-producing territories and thus strengthen our business model. The transformation also considers the impact of our business on the environment and how we can leave a positive footprint on the planet.
Preventing deforestation in Colombia
Deforestation is currently one of the most severe environmental problems facing our planet. According to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, deforestation in Colombia rose by 11% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Over the last two decades, 3.1 million hectares of forest have been deforested in the country. This is primarily caused by logging, ranching, and illicit mining, which accelerates the loss of woodland and jungle and increases the risk of forest fires and drought caused by climate change. Unfortunately, this means Colombia’s cocoa’s growing regions, the Tropical Dry Forest, are under threat. As members of the Cocoa Forests and Peace initiative, we are committed to preventing deforestation in our value chain and protecting these invaluable ecosystems.
Tropical dry forest: an endangered ecosystem
Deforestation causes environmental problems and undermines food security, disease control, and economic stability. But what exactly is the Tropical Dry Forest, and what is it so important? Also called a monsoon forest, it’s an ecosystem located north and south of the world’s tropical rainforests; the main characteristic is climate: a long dry season with temperatures between 25° and 30 °C and relatively heavy rainfalls. According to WWF, despite occupying only 6% of the global territory, tropical forests are home to around 80% of the world’s documented species. In Colombia, Tropical Dry Forests used to cover more than 9 million hectares, yet only 8% remains today. It is home to approximately 1,000 cocoa-growing families, 2,600 plant species, 230 bird species, and 60 mammal species – hundreds of which can’t be found in other ecosystems. Among them is the critically endangered Mono Tití Cabeciblanco “Cotton-top tamarin” – Saguinus Oedipus- unique worldwide.
Preserving Colombia’s Tropical Dry Forest is crucial for promoting biodiversity, protecting these rare species, and boosting the economy by keeping the livelihoods of families that cultivate cocoa in these areas safe. This led to our ‘Guardians of the Tropical Dry Forest’ project.
Launch of the Guardians of the Tropical Dry Forest project.
In 2021, we took on the task of looking for cocoa farmers in Huila and invited them to be part of a legion of watchers called Guardians of the Tropical Dry Forest. As part of the legion, Luker is training these farmers to protect the tropical dry forest via agroforestry systems to ensure cocoa serves as a reforestation crop. We’re teaching them crop care practices, waste separation techniques, and how to identify species that are vital for maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. We’ve had 73 farmers join the project to date. We are also measuring carbon capture on farms to encourage more sustainable cocoa production and to reward producers who use good practices and produce high-quality results.
Testimonial from Don Ricardo, a Guardian from Huila
This project is invaluable for people like Don Ricardo, for whom cocoa has been the primary mode of income for generations. He is now empowered to educate others within the local community on the importance of protecting various species while diversifying the plants on his farm to ensure a sustainable income and future.
Progress toward a sustainable future using our chocolate as a tool for change.
The Guardians of the Tropical Dry Forest project is key to helping us reach our overarching sustainability goals. The Guardians generate dynamic and collective spaces where each community learns to appreciate its environment and protect biodiversity. We can make an outstanding contribution to a sustainable future through our cocoa. By 2027 we aim to:
- Protect 5,000 hectares of land in cocoa-growing regions across Colombia
- Increase 1,500 cocoa farmers’ income by 20%
- Improve the quality of life for 5,000 cocoa-growing families
As of 2021, we have already successfully protected 2,000 and trained 44 environmental guardians to help us protect ecosystems and water sources in the territories through different projects of The Chocolate Dream. To conclude, we’d like to thank our Dreamer Clients, Lyra and Choc Affair, who have sponsored the project, and our local partners, Enel and Socya, for helping us to implement the project in the territories, thus supporting us to build a better and more sustainable future for us all!