Beyond Good Embarks Upon Second Phase of Research with Bristol Zoological Society To Study Effects of Cocoa Agroforestry on Critically Endangered Lemurs

Brooklyn, New York, UNITED STATES

New York, NY, Oct. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Beyond Good, a pioneer in dark chocolate and at-origin production, today announced it has embarked upon a second phase of research with Bristol Zoological Society to study the effects of sustainable cocoa agroforestry on lemur conservation in Madagascar.

World Lemur Day is celebrated on October 30 around the world. Lemurs are mammals of the order Primates, and native only to Madagascar. Due to Madagascar’s highly seasonal climate, lemur evolution has produced a level of species diversity rivaling that of any other primate group. According to the IUCN Red List, 98% of lemur species are threatened with extinction while 31% are categorized as Critically Endangered, meaning they are at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

“In working with cocoa farmers in Madagascar, we learned cocoa farms play a big role in lemur conservation,” said Tim McCollum, founder and CEO, Beyond Good. “We initially wanted to learn if lemurs could potentially live in cocoa forests. We were surprised to learn that not only were the lemurs already living in cocoa forests, but also they were in fact thriving.”

“The findings are exciting as they suggest that these highly threatened animals can live in human-dominated areas and cacao could be an example of a crop that, when grown sustainably, has the potential to benefit wildlife and people,” said Dr. Amanda Webber, lecturer in conservation science, Bristol Zoological Society.

In 2016, conservation scientists embarked on phase one of the research. They spent six months working with cocoa farmers, conducting lemur surveys and monitoring plantations using night cameras and acoustic units. The research identified five species of lemurs, including three categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, living in the plantations. All 3,263 share trees in the plantations were also surveyed to understand which trees the lemurs were using.

In phase two, researchers will assess and increase connectivity between cocoa plantations and forest fragments to begin active development of habitat corridors and bolster biodiversity. Additionally, researchers will work with farmers to make agroforestry decisions that impact sustainable livelihoods and conservation.

In June 2020, a local field team on the ground in Madagascar began agroforestry and biodiversity framework to prepare for when Malagasy researchers from Bristol Zoological Society can travel to the research site. The research is expected to conclude in 2024.

The environmental stakes in Madagascar are high. Approximately 90% of plants and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic. However, because of Madagascar’s extreme rate of poverty, 90% of its original forest has been lost.

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa; however, less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is produced there. Supply chain fragmentation drives poverty, exploitation, and environmental degradation in cocoa-producing countries. Most farmers earn less than $1USD a day. The traditional African cocoa supply chain involves three to five layers of intermediaries and requires up to 120 days in transit from farm to factory.

In contrast, there are zero layers of intermediaries in Beyond Good’s supply chain in Madagascar. It takes only ten days for cocoa to become a Beyond Good chocolate bar. Farmers harvest cocoa and transport cocoa beans to the chocolate factory down the road, where the chocolate-making process continues. This model allows farmers to add value and earn six times the industry standard in wages.

“The broken supply chain in the cocoa industry not only keeps farmers living in poverty but also depletes the environment. Fair wages and at-origin production sustain people and the planet. When farmers make a living wage, they can look to the future and do things like plant more trees on their farms. Addressing poverty opens the door to ecological impact,” continued McCollum. 

Beyond Good is the only brand in the U.S. making chocolate at source in Africa. Beyond Good currently has 375 hectares under sustainable land management to further crop diversity and 170,000 cocoa trees.

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 About Beyond Good

Beyond Good, a pioneer in dark chocolate and at-origin production, is the only brand in the U.S. market producing bean-to-bar chocolate at source in Africa. From an organic certified chocolate factory in Madagascar, Beyond Good produces the finest heirloom chocolate bars and employs 42 full-time employees, while providing a stable pay price for cocoa farmers. By making finished product in Africa, Beyond Good is redefining high-quality chocolate and sustainability in the chocolate industry. It’s not just good, it’s Beyond Good. For more information, visit and follow @eatbeyondgood on Facebook and Instagram.



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