By Manuela Omari Ima Omene Taken from "Chocolate is Saving my Jungle" published on the Huffington Post on September 22nd, 2014 "The lush, dense jungles we call home are part of a reserve that covers over 4,000 square miles -- almost the size of Connecticut. There are around 600 tree species here. We have more tree species in one square mile here than in all of the U.S., Canada and Mexico combined. Over time though, the ecosystem we've relied for so long on, has become burdened. Demand for bush meat, timber and oil backed us into a corner. We needed to reassert our custodianship of the land, but we had to come up with a creative way of doing it that would restore natural harmony and give us economic stability at the same time. My people were once solitary hunters and gatherers who lived from day to day. Our chocolate production has changed this. It has brought our women together to plant, maintain, harvest, process and sell the cacao. The bush meat market of Pompeya in Ecuador was the largest in the country for meats. It used to move 10 tons of meat a year -- everything from jaguars to monkeys -- placing an unsustainable pressure on our mammal population and threatening our own food security. It has now been shut down without violence thanks to our chocolate production. Our cocoa trees now cover 30 hectares, restoring the green jungle cover. This has brought the mammal population back."
By Manuela Omari Ima Omene Taken from "Chocolate is Saving my Jungle" published on the Huffington Post on September 22nd, 2014 "Before we started selling chocolate, some women here made no money. But we have revitalized the local economy. Every woman in the cooperative now makes money and our incomes have improved dramatically -- for some this meant a jump from nothing to USD$30 a month, for others it's USD$50 and some are even earning up to USD$150. We have better access to health, education and housing resources. Quality of life is quickly improving."
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