If you love chocolate, you should love trees.
Trees play an important role for cocoa farms. They provide shade cover for cocoa fields, allow water to be conserved more efficiently, boost biodiversity and increase household income. This benefits the entire ecosystem, including better soil health.
At Nestlé, we want to make sure that trees are protected, and natural habitats, too. To keep enjoying chocolate, we need to make sure cocoa is sustainable. That’s why we’re helping farmers plant 2.8 million shade trees on their farms in the next four years across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, 2 million of which will be forest trees and the remainder fruit trees.
The initiative is part of our Nestlé Cocoa & Forests Action Plan to help end deforestation and restore forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown. As demand for chocolate increases, smallholder farmers are feeling the pressure to clear more land to plant cocoa trees. A key solution is to increase productivity on the land already in use, by farming better, pruning, and planting shade trees.
Sustainable cocoa is a complex challenge. Solutions need to balance the protection of the environment with the social and economic development of farmers and producing countries. We are working with other members in the cocoa and chocolate industry to support the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), a public-private partnership with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to create long-term change.
Our activities tackle deforestation from a number of perspectives – environmental, social and economic. In addition to distributing shade trees, activities include mapping farmers to ensure they are not farming in protected forests; educating thousands of farmers on forest law enforcement and the importance of protecting forests; as well as distributing 5,000 improved cook stoves that burn less wood.
We are also engaging with villages where patches of untouched forest (called “sacred forest”) may need greater protection from agricultural expansion and where degraded forest may need restoration. Our pilot programs are looking at ways to preserve these areas by collaborating with these communities along with respective government forest ministries.
There’s more work to be done, but we are on our way to making great chocolate deforestation-free. That’s good news for cocoa growers, consumers and the planet as we drive responsibility in the industry and promote a sustainable cocoa supply chain.
You can read more about our Cocoa & Forests Action Plan here.