How can a small songbird and a bar of fine chocolate be emissaries of international conservation?
Our passions for cacao, wildlife conservation, and sustainable development unite at Reserva Zorzal (or the Bicknell’s Thrush Reserve, as it is known in English) — a 1,019 acre bird sanctuary and organic cacao demonstration farm in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic.
Bicknell’s Thrush (Zorzal de Bicknell) is a rare migratory songbird with a swirling, flute-like song. What it lacks in color, the thrush more than compensates in conservation value. By migrating annually between the Dominican Republic and North America, this endangered species establishes a conservation link across hemispheres. We work to strengthen that link by uniting farmers, governments, scientists, non-profits, chocolate producers and investors behind cacao production and habitat protection for the Bicknell’s Thrush in the tropics as well as in the United States and Canada. It turns out that chocolate, a culinary force in its own right, can also be a force for international conservation!
On Reserva Zorzal, we’ve set aside 70% of the land to be ‘forever wild.’ Given the scarcity of public funds for financing conservation, we’re demonstrating how the private sector can become partners in reforestation and habitat protection for birds and other wildlife. Reserva Zorzal is proud to be the Dominican Republic’s first private reserve as part of the National Protected Area System, establishing a model for private landowners to participate in landscape-level conservation. On the reserve, we’re demonstrating to the world that we can produce some of the world’s finest cacao and safeguardwhile enhancing biodiversity.