Right based campaign and advocacy organization, EcoCare Ghana, is asking chocolate companies, cocoa traders and the government to collaborate to establish a joint deforestation monitoring mechanism to check forest encroachment and illegal cocoa farming.
This call comes on the back of data analysis by a global advocacy organization, Mighty Earth, which reveals that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire continue to see huge areas of forest being destroyed to make room for cocoa production.
According to the data analysis by Mighty Earth, named ‘Sweet Nothings: How the chocolate industry has failed to honour promises to end deforestation in cocoa supply chains, overall levels of deforestation remain near record highs four and half years after chocolate companies and governments committed in the Cocoa and Forests Initiative to a ban on establishing any new cocoa farms.
Within cocoa growing areas, Cote d’Ivoire has lost 19,421 hectares of its forest cover while Ghana has lost an astonishing 39,497 hectares of forest with a high rate of deforestation of 3.9 percent.
This amounts to a combined area equivalent to the size of the cities of Madrid. Seoul or Chicago.
Through a combination of satellite data analysis and on-the-ground field investigations, Mighty Earth has uncovered evidence of ongoing tropical forest clearance for cocoa. This includes deforestation in designated protected areas that provide vital habitats for endangered wildlife – such as chimpanzees and pygmy hippos. These forests are also critical carbon sinks, vital for slowing both the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
Other key findings
• In Ghana, 2020 tree cover loss countrywide was 370 % higher since January 2019 than it was between 2001-2010, and 150 % higher than the average tree cover loss between 2011-2019.
• Average countrywide tree cover loss in Côte d’Ivoire has been 230% higher in the period since January 2019 than it was between 2001-2017, and 340% higher than the average loss during the 2000s.
• Deforestation is still found throughout protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with satellite data analysis and observations from Mighty Earth’s field investigation in Côte d’Ivoire revealing that cocoa expansion is playing a major role in this encroachment.
The report’s recommendations include chocolate companies, cocoa traders, and governments pooling information about cocoa supply chains, and couple this with satellite data imagery to establish an open and transparent joint deforestation monitoring mechanism in 2022.
“Such a mechanism would provide the means for collective action to prevent forest encroachment from cocoa expansion, as well as to target initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire,” the report authors said.
Mighty Earth also recommends that CFI should publicly report progress in reducing deforestation in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with the aim of achieving zero new deforestation for cocoa within two years and has called on leading chocolate companies and cocoa traders to play an active role in the restoration of degraded forests and biodiversity in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
“They should commit to sourcing at least 50% of their cocoa from agroforestry by 2025. and work with cocoa cooperatives and government agencies to help smallholder growers manage the transition from cocoa monocultures to diversified farming systems, the report states.
Mighty Earth also flags up the need for more legislation from authorities in the European Union. Japan, and the United States, that “requires companies to conduct thorough due diligence checks to prevent cocoa or cocoa-derived products linked to deforestation from being imported into their consumer markets.”
“The Cocoa and Forests Initiative has lots of potential but currently is not living up to it. It promised so much but is failing to deliver, Cocoa and chocolate companies have a duty to protect the environment or risk losing the commodity they depend on forever because the current situation is unsustainable,” said Obed Owusu-Addai, the Managing Campaigner at EcoCare Ghana.