The cocoa industry has been identified as one of the major drivers of deforestation in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s first and second largest producers of the commodity that provides the raw material for chocolate, said a new report released here on Friday.
“In the world’s two largest cocoa producing countries, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and Ghana, the market created by the chocolate industry has been the primary driver behind the destruction of forests,” said the report, published by Mighty Earth, a U.S.-based environmental protection organization.
It said regulated and protected forests are vanishing at double speed in the two West African countries.
According to the report, for years, the world’s major chocolate companies have been buying cocoa grown through the illegal deforestation of national parks and other protected forests, in addition to driving extensive deforestation outside of protected areas.
In Cote d’Ivoire, many of the country’s national parks and protected areas have been entirely or almost entirely cleared of forest and replaced with cocoa growing operations, the report said.
In neighboring Ghana, 291,254 acres of protected areas were cleared between 2001 and 2014.
During the same time, Ghana lost about 10 percent of its entire tree coverage, and approximately one quarter of that deforestation was connected to the chocolate industry.
“Without action, Ghana stands to lose all remaining forests outside its national parks in the next decade,” the report warned.
Campaign and Legal Director of Mighty Earth Etelle Higonnet urged big chocolate companies to take immediate action to end deforestation once and for all, and remediate past damage.
The report urged governments and the cocoa industry to pool resources to monitor deforestation and enforce compliance with zero deforestation policies.
It also urged the industry to shift its supply from those who engage in clearance of high carbon stock to shade-grown cocoa. Enditem