Côte D’Ivoire’s forests get a “roadmap” and international support
In 2012, the intra-ACP GCCA program stepped in to help Côte d’Ivoire protect and restore its forests, providing technical assistance for a strategic management plan, the so-called “REDD+ Roadmap”.
By supporting Côte d’Ivoire to protect its tree cover, the international community reduces global greenhouse gas emissions and slows the pace of climate change. By protecting tropical forests and allowing them to recover, current annual global emissions could drop by up to 30 percent (link).
For Côte d’Ivoire, the forests are an essential part of every day life. In a country where so many people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, woods help to regulate the country’s rains. They play a cultural and spiritual role too.
“We have many sacred forests here,“ says Marcel Yao, Côte d’Ivoire’s national coordinator for REDD+, a UN scheme to help countries protect and restore their forests. “They have major importance for our communities.”
But Côte d’Ivoire’s forest has become a victim of its own success. Agriculture, especially for cash crops such as coffee and cocoa, has driven rapid deforestation. Côte d’Ivoire’s forest cover has dropped since the end of the 1950s from 80 percent of national territory to just 5 percent in 2008. By 2012, the government was looking to join the international REDD+ mechanism.
“We applied to the intra-ACP for technical support to help us analyse the state of our forests and to produce a roadmap for the REDD+ process,” says Marcel Yao,
“The request was approved and a consulting firm made available.”
The consultants developed a REDD+ roadmap, including an analysis of the country’s gaps in sustainable forest management, and built capacity to implement it. “The roadmap reassured our partners and brought in a lot of funding,” Marcel says. “Above all, it allowed the different sectors to collaborate effectively.” In May 2018, Côte d’Ivoire said it would ask donors, timber firms, and cocoa companies to help finance a reforestation strategy costing US$1 billion over ten years (616 billion CFA francs). The strategy would seek to extend forest cover to 20 percent of national territory by 2030, replanting 170,000 hectares each year.
“The roadmap was the starting point for this strategy, the first brick on which everything else was built” says Marcel.
- Côte d’Ivoire has some of the world’s richest and most biodiverse forests, but they have been severely threatened by deforestation.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s forests are home to some of the region’s richest biodiversity, including primates, birds, reptiles, and more.
- But the world’s top cocoa producer has had some of the world’s fastest deforestation rates. Between 1990 and 2015, average deforestation was around 4.3 percent per year, the highest in the world at the time.
- The main causes of deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire are massive expansion of agriculture, timber exports, uncontrolled harvest of forests for firewood, bushfires, and mining, notably illegal small-scale gold mining.
- Other causes include population growth and poverty, which lead to over-exploitation of available natural resources.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s forest cover dropped since the end of the 1950s from 80 percent of national territory to just 5 percent in 2008.