Spatial analysis from 2018 shows that cocoa, rubber and oil palm dominate the landscape of the Nawa region in southwest Côte d’Ivoire. Forests make up only one percent of this 9,000-odd km² area.
The analysis by Earthworm Foundation was informed by two collaborative efforts in this area. Firstly, as part of food manufacturer Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life Project, Earthworm carried out a land-use study in Nawa in 2018. And secondly, Earthworm – through its smallholder programme, Rurality – has been collaborating with Nestlé and its partners (COOPAGRIS, COOPALM, SIPEFCI and ProFairTrade) to generate change at the oil palm farmer-level since 2016.
The study also revealed that this area is a major supply base for several cocoa, rubber and palm oil agro-industries. With international buyers increasingly demanding products from socially responsible supply chains, agro-industrial players in Nawa are trying to implement zero-deforestation policies – often at significant costs.
“Millions of dollars are spent. And in the end, when you go to Nawa, you don’t see a significant change in the fight against deforestation,” said Gérome Tokpa, Senior Manager, Africa at Earthworm Foundation.
Taking the lessons learnt since we began working in Nawa in 2016, Earthworm recommends the Landscapes approach as an effective method to preserve remaining forests and regain forest cover in Nawa.
According to Tokpa, “Landscapes is an integrated approach of balancing the competitive demands of land use in ways that enhance human well-being and the environment in a given space.”
Earthworm’s Landscapes programme, which brings together key stakeholders to form sustainable land-use planning solutions, is currently being implemented in Indonesia. The aim is to find a compromise that will allow for economic development, as well as preservation of habitats and ecosystem services.
In July 2019, with technical and financial support from Mondelēz, Earthworm brought together 50 representatives from the public and private sectors in Nawa to increase awareness of the Landscapes approach.
“The challenge is to preserve the remaining 1 percent of forest before thinking about restoring the forest cover,” Tokpa said. “Landscapes responds to this challenge by bringing together people in the Nawa supply base to create land-use management plans and monitoring tools.”
Workshop participants, who were divided into two groups, identified ongoing initiatives to protect and rehabilitate forest cover in Nawa. Similarly, issues related to deforestation in the region were identified and categorised. As a result of these discussions, it was decided that a task force should be set up. This task force will work with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to develop a Landscapes-based strategy to preserve the remaining 1 percent of forest in Nawa.
“This inclusive approach is crucial to trigger participation from all stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the fight against deforestation,” said Mbalo Ndiaye, Country Director of Mondelēz.