Assessing biodiversity in cocoa landscapes in West Africa


Cocoa in smallholder farming systems is often grown in combination with shade trees. Shade trees can be remnant rainforest trees left by farmers when establishing the plantation, or are planted by farmers. Shaded cocoa can support plant and animal species that depend on forest habitat. There is evidence that some level of shading also contributes to the long term sustainability of cocoa production. There is very little data on the value of different (shaded) cocoa systems to support biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, at the local, landscape or even the global scale. 

For this study, field surveys will be used to assess and contrast faunal, floral and structural diversity in different cocoa systems with adjacent forest areas and other agricultural habitats, and to evaluate the potential role of (shaded) cocoa in improving habitat connectivity to support forest dependent species within the landscape. Analysis will be undertaken through the production of ecological models. Focus countries will be Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, though work in other cocoa-producing areas can also be considered. This MSc thesis will be part of the Plant Production Systems chair group in collaboration with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centrein Cambridge, UK.


Type of work

Field survey, data analysis, reporting


UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge UK


Preferably some previous experience with ecological field surveys. Statistics. R software.


Wageningen/ Cambridge/ West Africa (to be determined)




Marieke Sassen                                                                         

Samantha Hill                                                                           

Danaë Rozendaal                                0317-485321