RSPB – yes, the bird charity – has launched a new chocolate brand designed to protect rainforests.
The charity explains that demand for cocoa, much like palm oil, is contributing to the destruction of rainforests. However, Gola Rainforest Chocolate shows that's not necessary: it's made from cocoa beans grown in a native forest in Sierra Leone, where it's protected by the shade of the other trees, and managed by farmers who live outside the forest.
It all works in harmony with the awesome biodiversity of the Gola rainforest, says RSPB, which is home to endangered species like forest elephants, pygmy hippos and chimpanzees, and over 300 species of birds and 600 of butterflies.
After harvesting, the beans go to Cornwall-based chocolate maker Chocolarder, which slow-roasts them and adds unrefined sugar to create an organic, vegan-friendly 70 per cent dark chocolate with 'naturally rich and fudgy flavours'. There's also a non-vegan milk chocolate version, and neither contain any palm oil, gluten or nuts.
RSPB says that all profits from the chocolate bars will be reinvested back into the Gola Rainforest Cocoa Forest, while the cocoa bean farmers will be able to these 'build a profitable business without the need to encroach on the rainforest'.
Pic 2: Jenneh Konneh – a member of Tunkia Koya Cocoa Farmers Association (TUNKOCFA) (©B Hovarth)