The expansion of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire has led to significant encroachment in protected areas, such as in the Mount Péko National Park and Mabi-Yaya Nature Reserve. The Mount Péko National Park lost 70% of its forest cover between 2002 and 2016 because of increased agricultural activity in the Guémon region. Despite a relocation plan launched in 2012, encroachment in the Park continues, and tensions remain between Park managers and the local population due to former confrontations.
Similarly, in the Mé region, the Mabi-Yaya forest – classified as a Nature Reserve in October 2019 – is experiencing gradual reduction in forest cover as cocoa farmers continue to encroach.
Though CFI has a number of different working groups, none are specifically tackling issues of deforestation in national parks and protected areas.
To respond to this, a CFI National Park Working Group was established, bringing together the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR), the Foundation for the Parks and Reserves in Côte d’Ivoire (FPRCI), the Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF), WCF, and cocoa companies. The objective of this Working Group is to forge public-private partnerships for the conservation and restoration of protected areas and halt deforestation due to cocoa production in these forests. The Mount Peko National Park and the Mabi-Yaya Nature Reserve are the first two protected areas benefiting from such initiatives in the short term. These may serve as models for other protected areas that have been impacted by human activity.
The first CFI National Park Working Group virtual meeting was organized on 16 November 2020, and will be followed by monthly meetings during which participants will co-develop a joint production, protection and inclusion plan for the protected areas and their surrounding landscape. The plans will not only include protection and restoration interventions, but will also focus on the improvement of livelihoods and living conditions of communities, to disincentivize encroachment.