Zorzal Cacao

Conservation and reforestation through agroforestry

Reserva Zorzal sits nestled in the mountainous northern region of the Duarte Province in the Dominican Republic, and spans 1,019 green acres of agroforestry and “forever wild” reserve. The site is a collaboration between three partners, Loma Quita Espuela, Consorcio Ambiental Domincano, and Reserva Zorzal, who aim to protect a threatened migratory songbird, the Bicknell’s Thrush, through reforestation and conservation.

The Bicknell’s Thrush is a tiny bird. It averages six inches in length and usually weighs under a full ounce. Zorzal (which translates to “thrush” in Spanish) provides a safe sanctuary for the Thrush in the winter, where it spends the season before migrating back North America for the rest of year. Its chipper song is reminiscent of a high-pitched flute. Listen here.

You might think this all seems like a lot for one little bird, but the island of Hispanola native species is mostly birds and amphibians, plenty of which also can all Reserva Zorzal a home. More importantly is the prescient the reserve sets: it’s the very first privately owned reserve designed to encourage private landowners to participate in conservation in the Dominican Republic.

The reserve is home to 31,120 native tree species and lush, sustainable agroforestry, producing cacao, macadamias, bananas, and other food crops. Of over a thousand acres, 130 of them function as a cacao demons as a cacao demonstration farm, where both certified organic and conventional flavor grade cacao are grown, harvested, fermented and dried on site. To complete this cacao-green-dream, Reserva Zorzal also includes a carbon offset project that is being third-party verified under Plan Vivo. Under the plan, chocolate makers pay more for every pound of cacao to invest in reforestation.

Cacao Pods on a tree!

These photos all come from our most recent visit to Reserva Zorzal in May 2016.