“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.”
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 and encroachment by farmers, chopping down any cocoa trees that have been planted there. The work is physically taxing but critical to preserving the last of this ancient primal forest.
The Cavally Forest Reserve is one of the largest of 234 classified forests in Côte d’Ivoire, covering an area of 67 593 hectares. This makes it a much bigger forest than other locations we are active in, such as Beki and Toa Zèo . Unfortunately, only 54% of the Cavally Forest Reserve remains intact.
In 2020, Nestlé began work in collaboration with 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 protecting forests to 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.
In 2021, a total of 366 hectares of the Cavally Forest Reserve were replanted with almost
76 000 seedlings by community members. Word spreads fast around the Cavally region, so the number of local people participating has grown. A total of 200 community members were involved in replanting and maintenance in 2021 and we have now engaged with nine groups for nursery development. This bolsters our replanting program’s capacity in 2022 – a win for the initiative, and for the forest.