In the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire, the Taï forest area is an ecologically vital tropical rainforest, rich in biodiversity and home to many endemic and endangered species, such as chimpanzees and pigmy hippopotamus. The forest also provides ecosystem services such as climate regulation, which agricultural production depends upon. Additionally, about 40% of national cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire is grown in the area. Other agricultural commodities such as rubber and palm oil are also grown in the region. Over the past decades, the expansion of agricultural production and population growth have caused massive deforestation and land degradation in the forests around Taï National Park, including the Cavally Region which hosts the two large forest reserves of Goin-Débé and Cavally.
In 2017, with these environmental challenges as a backdrop, the government of Côte d’Ivoire started to develop a new national forest policy, in dialogue with the international community. In parallel, insights advanced on cocoa production as a driver of deforestation. On a global scale these insights precipitated the launch of the public-private led Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which committed the government of Côte d’Ivoire (and Ghana) and cocoa companies to actions to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from the cocoa supply chain (see more on this development in the Cocoa chapter). IDH was at the heart of both of these developments, which resulted in a renewed enabling environment that builds on the energy of stakeholders and addresses the challenges currently faced in Côte d’Ivoire. At the same time complications have occurred, such as political unrest and continuing immigration, increasing forest encroachment and deforestation, particular in the Goin-Débé and Cavally forest reserves. This has prompted a government urgency plan in the Cavally Region funded by the National Security Council. Additionally, cocoa prices are at a five year low, further stressing the business case for cocoa production. This context emphasizes the need for immediate action on the ground.
The overall objective of the program is to create a sustainable balance between forest protection, agricultural production and social inclusion in the region. IDH is taking steps to achieve this goal through the development of an inclusive regional green growth plan, which aligns public and private sector investments. Green growth plans will be supported by field level investments, allowing individual partners to start leveraging opportunities (e.g. agroforestry) or to address barriers (e.g. lack of traceability) and develop a clearer vision on closer collaboration at regional level. Activities on the ground have resulted in a start of such closer collaboration between the agro-industry actors in the region with the forestry authority SODEFOR. This collaboration and the exchanges bring tangible insights on how to better align forest surveillance with cocoa production. The step-wise approach increases the readiness of partners to commit to a joint regional green growth plan.
Changes in business practicesPrivate-sector (sustainability) investments: Target 2017 650,000Result 433,962Cocoa exporters active in the Taï forest area have begun activities that support forest protection, improve production practices, and promote the inclusion of local communities. This is in part due to the IDH-supported regional platform. Participating companies have become more aware of the barriers and possibilities to act, due to the closer relationship they have formed with SODEFOR. Activities so far include training and input supply for agroforestry, improved traceability capacity, and sensitization of the local population to the value of forest preservation. Additionally, rubber operator SIAT and timber operator STBC, active in the region, have endorsed the regional governance structures and the importance of developing a regional green growth strategy.
Change in sector and landscape governanceChanges in policy and regulatory environment: Target 2020 3Target 2017 1Result 2The governance of the landscape has been formally approved with a Supervisory Committee, headed by the Ministry of Planning. The Regional Committee will bring together the local authorities with the program partners to boost the exchange and field level collaboration. In the region, SODEFOR has launched two pilot projects, improving surveillance of the Cavally forest reserve and conducting a census on the Goin-Débé forest reserve. Both projects have been endorsed by the government and are being further embedded in public policy developments. At a national level, a new forestry policy has been developed leading to a renewed forest code to be published early 2018. Over the last few years IDH has contributed to these evolutions by openly addressing the theme of forest management and its link to agricultural production. The government of Côte d’Ivoire and cocoa industry have signed the Joint Framework of Action on Cocoa and Forests outlining the actions to be undertaken by to delink deforestation from cocoa production. The signing of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative framework provides a solid basis for collaboration between industry and government and across the cocoa and forestry sectors. As one of the key conveners of this Initiative, IDH has played a crucial role in its establishment. With the ISLA activities in the Cavally region, IDH and its partners directly set an example of how to operationalize the framework commitments.
Field-level impactNumber of producers/workers/community members trained: Target 2020 6,300Target 2017 2,025Result 11,609#ha where trained practices are applied: Target 2020 31,425Target 2017 2,000Result 963Agroforestry plans that are being implemented were defined in collaboration with research partners and timber operators. Local awareness committees on environmental and social issues have been established within cooperatives, as well as improved traceability systems. The extensive sensitization efforts within communities are resulting in higher awareness and engagement of the local populations.
The next step is the Joint Framework of Action to show and bundle our commitments to stop deforestation and forest degradation.
Through agroforestry promotion and practices, gender balance can be achieved on tasks and responsibilities that are traditionally divided between men and women. An implementing partner in the landscape is prototyping this approach, by training a group restricted to female-only agroforestry master trainers.
Embedding “green growth thinking” in partners’ activities is a progressive, cumulative process. The wide-spread availability and affordability of (non-cocoa) planting material is crucial for the successful promotion of agroforestry. For farmers to obtain tree tenure they need to be land owners, which creates some hurdles in the implementation of agroforestry projects. The engagement of locally initiated and embedded NGOs is key for long-term forest conservation