Protecting and Restoring the West Africa’s Cavally Forest

2 min read

Protecting and restoring West Africa’s Cavally Forest

“We, along with the Côte d’Ivoire government, see this work towards forest protection and regeneration in Cavally Forest as emblematic for Côte d’Ivoire and the cocoa industry. We want to share our experiences to inspire others to act similarly.”

– Mathilde Xicola Cavally Landscape Project Manager,
Earthworm Foundation

In the depths of the Cavally Forest Reserve, a small group of community members and NGO agents make their way through the dense landscape on patrol. At night, they set up camp in the wilderness and by day, they survey the forest. They are looking for signs of illegal deforestation. The work is physically taxing but critical to preserving the unique biodiversity corridor.

The Cavally Forest Reserve is one of the largest of 234 classified forests in Côte d’Ivoire, covering an area of 67 593 hectares..

In 2020, Nestlé began working in collaboration with the Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF) and Earthworm Foundation to protect and restore the Cavally Forest Reserve.

The initiatives in Cavally Forest Reserve are designed to include local people in moving beyond just protecting forests to proactively restoring them and helping them to thrive – which stems from Nestlé’s Forest Positive strategy.

Nestlé's CHF 2.5-million investment supports incentives for local community members to preserve and regenerate the forest, allowing them to feel a sense of ownership and prevent further illegal farming.

As well as regular patrols, reforestation is a major objective. Nestlé’s funding helps to set up nurseries to begin growing native trees as seedlings, which can then be sown in the cleared forest areas. Two rounds of maintenance take place in the following months to make sure that the seedlings are growing successfully.

The preliminary results of the initial, three-year project that was funded by Nestlé and ran until the end of June 2023 were very encouraging. During its first phase, the Cavally project led to a significant reduction in deforestation, the natural regeneration of 7000 hectares, and the reforestation of almost 1500 hectares. In addition, greater economic and social resilience has been observed within local communities, with more than 1400 people benefiting financially from the project.

The project is now welcoming new partners to achieve a greater impact. These partners include the Swiss Federal Administration (SECO) via the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO) as well as companies Touton and Cocoasource, which work directly with cocoa and rubber cooperatives in the area affected.

To combat deforestation and tackle the root causes of the problem, a collective approach based on creating value for producers and rural communities is required.

“The Cavally project is a very important initiative for us, as it allows our company to act directly within our supply chain. We are protecting a forest adjacent to the areas where we source cocoa and creating value for the farmers we work with. We're delighted to have been able to contribute towards the success of this first phase and look forward to working with new partners to intensify the project’s impact further,” explained Corinne Gabler, Head of Confectionery & Ice Cream at Nestlé.”