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The Cavally Forest Reserve: A Blueprint for Involving Communities in Forest Protection
The Cavally Forest Reserve: A Blueprint for Involving Communities in Forest Protection
News Sep 26, 2022

How Community Engagement is Driving Forest Protection in Ivory Coast

6-minute read

More than 1,000 hectares of land has been reforested in the Cavally Forest Reserve, Côte d'Ivoire, thanks to efforts from local communities and Ivorian government agencies.

Faced with deforestation, climate change and its disastrous consequences on agriculture, human well-being and animal species, Nestlé – in partnership with the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF) – has committed to safeguarding and reforesting the Cavally classified forest.

To this end, the Société de Développement des Forêts (SODEFOR) and Earthworm Foundation were appointed to identify and implement inclusive solutions to protect and restore forests, and build the resilience of rural communities to improve environmental quality.

One year after its launch, Earthworm Foundation, MINEF, Nestlé and SODEFOR are sharing the initial results of this project. Download the report to learn more:

Reversing the Deforestation Curve

Agriculture is one of the causes of deforestation.

“From 16 million hectares of forest in the 1900s, today we are at just under 3 million hectares. Agriculture is one of the causes of this deforestation. This is a challenge that Côte d'Ivoire, whose economy is mainly based on agriculture, intends to take up for the development of its agriculture," said Gerome Tokpa, Earthworm Foundation's Regional Head of West Africa.

But how do we reconcile the economic needs of agriculture with the environmental needs on which agricultural activities depend? Earthworm Foundation’s approach is to work towards the conservation of existing forests.

These are generally identified through an integrated HCV-HCS Approach. This is a methodology that identifies important forest remnants for conservation and severely degraded areas for rehabilitation based on criteria such as plant and animal species, ecosystem services, culture, habitats, community needs, etc.

The HCV-HCS Approach is coupled with the use of Starling, a high-resolution (1.5 m) satellite monitoring technology that can detect deforestation. Protection and rehabilitation activities involve rural communities and all the other stakeholders.

Involving Rural Communities in Forest Conservation

In the implementation of the Cavally project, the resilience of communities surrounding the Cavally Forest is given prominence.

“We are convinced that the best way to protect the Cavally Forest is to involve communities in taking ownership and show that conservation can be a source of additional income,” said Laurent Tchagba, Ivorian Minister of Water and Forests.

Community involvement is an important gateway to real forest protection. This means involving communities at every key stage of the project.

Over 2021, two women's groups – involving 34 people – set up nurseries of local tree species to provide seedlings for reforestation. Also, agreements were signed with 9 village groups to reforest degraded forests, while 6 village groups agreed to maintain the seedlings; which involves 200 people.

With support from the SODEFOR and Earthworm Foundation, these groups have reforested 366 hectares of forest. For these activities – nurseries, reforestation and maintenance of seedlings – the various village groups were paid more than 20,000,000 CFA Francs, part of which was reinvested in various income-generating activities.

“These initiatives are in line with our commitment to sustainable cocoa farming and prosperous communities. We will continue to work with the government of Côte d'Ivoire and our partners to help protect and restore forest reserves and improve the quality of life of communities,” said Nestlé's Managing Director in Côte d'Ivoire, Thomas Caso.

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About Nestlé

Nestlé strongly believes that forests are essential to preserving biodiversity and combating climate change. Nestlé is committed to achieving its goal of zero net emissions by 2050 and to having 100% deforestation-free supply chains for all its raw materials by 2025. Read more about Nestlé's initiatives here.

About Earthworm Foundation

Earthworm Foundation is an impact-driven non-profit that works with businesses, civil society, communities, governments and others to tackle environmental and social issues in sourcing landscapes and supply chains. To learn more, visit www.earthworm.org.

About Starling Forest Monitoring Technology

Implemented since 2018 in Côte d'Ivoire as part of the protection and rehabilitation of the Cavally classified forest, Starling was co-developed by Airbus and Earthworm Foundation. It combines high-resolution optical imagery (SPOT 6 and 7 at 1.5 m resolution on the ground) and radar imagery (TERRA-SAR X). This enables unbiased monitoring of forest cover change. Thanks to Starling, a reference map of the Cavally classified forest was established in 2018. This map distinguishes between degraded and intact areas. Starling also provides quarterly alerts that allow SODEFOR agents to better target patrol intervention zones. The evolutionary curve of deforestation alerts shows that the rate of deforestation has decreased from 6% in January 2018 to 0.5% in December 2021.

Media contacts

Mame Pane Sakho; +225 05858 26641; mamepane.sakho@ci.nestle.com

Emmanuel Dabo; +225 07781 39727; e.dabo@earthworm.org

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