Africa and Sub-Saharan African Environmental IssuesGhana Environmental Issues and News

Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana Lose Between 80 To 90% Of Forested Area – Study

By Rhodaline Anane Mensah

Mighty Earth said Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are estimated to have lost 80% to 90% of their forested area over the last few decades, in large part to make way for cocoa farms.

Through a combination of satellite data analysis and on the ground field investigations, the organisation has uncovered evidence of ongoing tropical forest clearance for cocoa.

The new data analysis by Mighty Earth contained in Sweet Nothings Report revealed that, even after the industry published action plans in 2019, Côte d’Ivoire lost 19,421 hectares 74.9 sq. mi. of forest within cocoa growing regions and Ghana lost 39,497 hectares 152.5 sq. mi. This amounts to a combined area equivalent to the size of the cities of Madrid, Seoul, or Chicago.

“This report unwraps the unsavoury side of the cocoa industry and shows the urgent need to break the link between chocolate products and deforestation,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, the global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet.

“Chocolate companies like Nestlé, Hershey’s, Mondelez and Mars need to stop making empty promises and start working together with governments in the CFI to establish an open and effective joint deforestation monitoring mechanism this year”.

This includes deforestation in designated protected areas that provide vital habitats for endangered wildlife such as chimpanzees and pygmy hippos. These forests are also critical carbon sinks, vital for slowing both the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

According to the report “In Ghana, 2020 tree cover loss countrywide was 370 per cent higher since January 2019 than it was between 2001-2010, and 150 per cent higher than the average tree cover loss between 2011 to 2019.

“Average countrywide tree cover loss in Côte d’Ivoire has been 230 per cent higher in the period since January 2019 than it was between 2001 to 2017, and 340 per cent higher than the average loss during the 2000s.”

The report noted that deforestation is still found throughout protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with satellite data analysis and observations from Mighty Earth’s field investigation in Côte d’Ivoire revealing that cocoa expansion is playing a major role in this encroachment.

General Coordinator of the Ivorian Human Rights organizations (RAIDH), Souleymane Fofana said all of this devastation is entirely preventable and should have been addressed long ago.

“Meanwhile, forests continue to disappear, endangered species die, and communities suffer; The cocoa industry has the same tools and far more resources than Mighty Earth to track and prevent deforestation, but limited willpower and lack of transparency and accountability continue to be the biggest roadblocks to progress,” he said.

The ‘Sweet Nothing’s’ report recommended that chocolate companies, cocoa traders, and governments must pool information about cocoa supply chains, and couple this with satellite data imagery to establish an open and transparent joint deforestation monitoring mechanism in 2022.

Such a mechanism would provide the means for collective action to prevent forest encroachment from cocoa expansion and target initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

CFI should publicly report progress in reducing deforestation in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with the aim of achieving zero new deforestation for cocoa within two years.

Also, leading chocolate companies and cocoa traders should play an active role in the restoration of degraded forests and biodiversity in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

They should commit to sourcing at least 50 per cent of their cocoa from agroforestry by 2025, and work with cocoa cooperatives and government agencies to help smallholder growers manage the transition from cocoa monocultures to diversified farming systems.


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