Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer and processor of cocoa and one of Africa’s leading producers of palm oil, rubber and coffee. International companies depend on sourcing these commodities, from hundreds of thousands of smallholders, who rely on them for their livelihoods. About 40 % of the 1,500,000 MT of annual cocoa production, as well as large portions of the other commodities, are grown in the areas around Taï National Park.
Located in south-western Côte d’Ivoire, the Taï forest area is rich in biodiversity and home to many endemic and endangered species such as forest elephants and the pigmy hippopotamus. The forest also provides ecosystem services such as climate regulation on which agricultural production depends.
Over the past decades, agricultural expansion and population growth have caused massive deforestation and land degradation in the forests around Taï National Park. As a result, climatic irregularities that affect harvests as well as food security are increasingly becoming the norm. This has serious implications both for the Ivorian economy, highly dependent on The wider Tai Area, Côte d’Ivoire agriculture, especially cocoa exports, and for international supply chains that depend on the region for raw materials. This means that conservation of wider Taï area goes hand-in-hand with improving livelihoods, economic growth and international supply security.
To address this, together with partners, IDH focuses on the following key issues:
- Forest cover restoration.
- Land-use planning.
- Sustainable livelihoods.
- Developing financial incentives.
- Creating a public-private investment facility for the green development of the landscape.
Through our Cocoa and Forests Initiative, we bring together the government of Côte d’Ivoire (and Ghana) as well as global cocoa companies to collaborate on ending deforestation and restoring forests in cocoa producing regions.
In order to meet the goals, we address commercial, community and conservation issues in a coordinated way. We do this through addressing policy at the national level as well as carrying out activities at the local level. Our work includes:
- Agroforestry related projects to protect and restore the forest cover and thus biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration.
- Payments for reduced emissions of deforestation and degradation (REDD+) as an incentive for farmers/communities to protect the remaining forests.
- Establishing open and constructive dialogue among the different public (and private) stakeholders involved to alignment and successful enforcement of land use planning policies.
- Activities to diversify smallholder farmers’ income, improve their access to credit and provide financial incentives for them to stop deforestation
- Attract investment from impact investors to the landscape.
- Developing green growth plans.