The Swiss confectionery giant said it will invest CHF2.5m ($2.7m) to finance efforts to end deforestation within the forest reserve and restore degraded forest. It will also support transition pathways for farmers currently producing in the reserve and promote regenerative agriculture for areas around the reserve.
The Cavally forest reserve is one of 234 classified forests in Côte d'Ivoire, a biodiversity hotspot under threat due to deforestation.
"Halting deforestation linked to cocoa is part of our ambition to transform our agricultural supply chain, making it more environmentally friendly and resilient. This is part of our accelerated action to tackle climate change, and it will contribute to achieving our zero net emissions commitment by 2050," said Magdi Batato, executive vice president, head of operations, Nestlé.
Côte d’Ivoire has lost much of its forest cover over the past 60 years. From 1960 to 2015, the area of its forests decreased from 16 million to 3.5 million hectares. This loss of forest was caused by smallholder agriculture.
The project will be implemented by the Côte d'Ivoire's Forest Agency (SODEFOR) and Earthworm Foundation, working in synergy with other stakeholders, including the cocoa communities.
“When it comes to all the commitments being made by companies on climate, biodiversity and forests, the real challenge is to put words into action,” said Earthworm Foundation’s CEO Bastien Sachet. “We are happy that Nestlé is walking the talk with an ambitious plan to protect and regenerate this key forest landscape in Cavally.”
In 2014, the Ivorian government committed to restoring 20% of its territory to forest by 2030. As part of this work, SODEFOR began a partnership with Starling (a satellite technology partnership between Earthworm Foundation and Airbus) to establish an accurate base map of the Cavally Forest Reserve.
“Using accurate satellite data allowed us to identify forest degradation at the earliest stages and better target our interventions, which is key when looking after such a big area,” said Mamadou Sangaré, SODEFOR’s director general.
Nestlé's Cocoa Plan manager Darrell High said: "A sustainable production of cocoa that benefits local communities, the environment and the economic development of the country is possible. Our vision is for this project to serve as an example of how cocoa can be sourced in a way that simultaneously protects precious ecosystems in Côte d'Ivoire and preserves farmers' livelihoods.
“The project will help to ensure that future farmers and communities cultivate cocoa and other crops outside Cavally forest areas. The project is aligned with Nestlé's participation in the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI) and its action plan to ending deforestation in its cocoa supply chain as well as preserving and restoring existing forests.”