One of the key activities of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative is the collection of socio-economic data on cocoa producers and forest-dependent communities. These data help to have a better knowledge of the state of classified forests, and thus to develop development plans that consider the reality on the ground.
The classified Goin-Débé forest in the Cavally region covers 133,170 hectares, more than 75% of which is in an advanced state of degradation. Goin-Débé is the first forest to have been covered by such a census. The results were just released in early December. This census was carried out as part of SODEFOR’s pilot project, “Census of farm managers and mapping surveys of farms in the Goin-Débé classified forest”, financed by IDH, through its ISLA landscape program.
This study reveals that a total of 20,868 people is illegally settled in the Goin-Débé classified forest. Agricultural activities cover 81,756 ha, or more than 60% of the total area of the forest (the remaining 38% being mosaics of fallow forests) and are mainly about cocoa cultivation (93.46% of the area) followed by rubber cultivation (0.31%) and coffee (0.18%).The agricultural population is predominantly male (97.37% male compared to 2.63% female) and quite young with an average age of 27 years for farm managers. On the other hand, the agricultural plots are ageing with an average age of 22 years and an average declared agricultural yield of 500 kg/ha; this corresponds to about 38,968 tons of cocoa produced annually in this forest. The study also reveals that the average agricultural area per head of farm is 4 hectares and that 104,340 people depend directly on the agricultural activities of the Goin-Débé classified forest for their daily lives.
A workshop to report the results to the people of the Cavally region and to all stakeholders will be organized soon. This study provides essential information for the design of the management plan of the Goin-Débé classified forest, which will become an agroforest. Agroforests are a new category of forests created by the new Forest Code, adopted by Parliament last July. These data will be used in the agroforestry management plan being developed with the support of the Forest Investment Program.
This pilot project has enabled SODEFOR to test its census methodology, which can then be replicated in other classified forests.