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Protecting and restoring biodiversity: Chiquita’s conservation efforts

Working with the Rainforest Alliance, Chiquita’s active biodiversity program goes beyond the boundaries of its banana farms. The program has opened doors to productive partnerships with customers, governments and organizations, protecting biodiversity on and around its farms and neighbouring banana and cattle farms as well as land that is not in agricultural use.

The Nogal-La Selva local biological corridor

The Nogal Nature and Community Reserve is a biodiversity conservation partnership that strives for the protection of endangered biodiversity at Nogal, in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. It’s located in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which extends from southern Mexico to Panama. The Mesoamerica region has been declared a biodiversity hotspot. Nogal Private Wildlife Refuge is Chiquita’s home base. The refuge is wet tropical forest, with over 720 species of plants.

The Nogal La Selva biological corridors aim to connect forests and promote conservation. Established in 2004, in partnership with major European retailers (Migros, IPL) and the GTZ Development Corporation of the German government this biological corridor was formed to protect and reconnect forest fragments.

Measuring the impact of our efforts
Now in its eleventh year, the aim of the Nogal project is to conserve the biodiversity of the rainforest by connecting and protecting the forests of the area. To date, the Nogal Project has reforested corridors connecting other large forest patches to the south of the Refuge. The aim of reforesting the area with more than 60 native tree species, which grow quickly in the hot and humid tropical conditions (many are now more than 10 meters tall), is to create the Nogal- La Selva Local Biological Corridor.

“Since 2004 the Nogal-La Selva Local Biological Corridor has connected 600 hectares of forests,” said Amanda Wendt, Chiquita’s Nogal project leader. “The corridor allows the free movement of forest dwelling species, like the endangered spider monkey, ocelots, understory song bird, and butterflies.”
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It didn’t take long before wildlife was observed moving through the corridors, such as deer, anteaters, howler and capuchin monkeys, and most significantly since 2011, troops of the endangered spider monkey.

“We now see more monkeys, for instance a troop of spider monkeys instead of single spider monkey,” said Wendt. “We have counted more howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys in the Nogal Reserve since five years ago. These are important indicators that local habitat has improved.”

Chiquita has been documenting the many species of flora and fauna dwelling in the protected forests as well as the new reforestations. During 31 months of monitoring, between 2008 and 2011, 100 species of fruit-eating butterflies (family Nymphalidae) were recorded, including one species that had not been reported on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica for more than 100 years, Wendt explained.

Nogal also exists to promote environmental awareness in the local population by working with communities and organizations. More than 25,000 schoolchildren and adults have attended the environmental education programs run on the Refuge.
In what other ways does Chiquita preserve and encourage biodiversity?

The company takes steps to preserve and encourage biodiversity in and around the banana farms.
Protection of natural ecosystems and wildlife is fundamental to the Rainforest Alliance standards and implementation of these standards leads to the protection of biodiversity in different ways. Strict rules governing the use of chemicals minimize environmental impact on soils and waterways. Regular analysis of rivers, streams and groundwater ensures we are not polluting our environment. Integrated pest management techniques prioritize natural methods over chemicals in controlling pests whilst minimizing risks to the people and the environment. Chiquita reforestation efforts provide buffers along rivers, streams and uncultivated land to prevent soil erosion and water runoff as well as reduce the use of herbicides. Partnering with the Rainforest Alliance has created new opportunities to conserve biodiversity on the banana farms and beyond farm boundaries.

Source: theguardian.com

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