Since January 2020, Reforest'Action has been working in southern Ivory Coast alongside local company Agro-Map, which specializes in the development of sustainability projects in the agricultural, forestry and environmental fields. The objective is to contribute to the restoration and preservation of classified forests by reforesting degraded areas and developing agroforestry alongside small local cocoa producers. During the 2020-2021 season, 200,000 trees have been funded by Reforest'Action and are currently being planted in the field.
A community restoration project with a strong local impact
Led by our technical partner Agro-Map and local communities, the project aims to restore the many ecosystemic services provided by the forests and to develop the benefits of agroforestry associated with cocoa farming. Several components are being carried out in parallel:
- The creation of agroforestry systems by planting fruit and forest trees in cocoa plots;
- The restoration of the classified forests of Séguié and Rasso by planting local and varied forest species;
- The sensitization and training of cocoa producers in agroforestry techniques and the sustainable protection of restored forests.
- Monitoring and maintenance of the planted trees over the long term.
Strengthened by community enthusiasm, the project, funded by Reforest'Action since January 2020, continues to develop around the localities of Agboville, Adzopé and Abengourou, in southern Ivory Coast.
Combining agroforestry with cocoa crops
By introducing a variety of tree species, particularly fruit trees, into cultivated plots, agroforestry aims to create a microclimate that increases crop productivity while improving the resilience of ecosystems. The approach thus makes it possible to rehabilitate biodiversity within agricultural land and to prevent soil erosion. It also contributes to the food security of local populations and to the generation of additional income from the sale of harvested fruits. Aware that 80% of deforestation in Ivory Coast is linked to intensive agriculture, our partner Agro-Map sees agroforestry as a sustainable solution to reconcile trees and cocoa crops without degrading the surrounding forests.
For the implementation of agroforestry systems, 35,629 forest and fruit trees were planted during the second quarter of 2021 by 1,523 cocoa farmers on an area of 1,187 hectares. Among the species, forest trees such as Fraké, Framiré, Tiama, Mahogany and Niangon will allow, thanks to their vegetation cover, to shelter the underlying cocoa trees from the sun or too much rain. Fruit trees such as Kplé, Akpi and Petit Cola will produce fruit for the villagers' consumption or for sale on the markets. Acacia trees are planted all around the plots to enclose the fields and protect them from livestock. Planting work will continue in the coming weeks.
Restore nearby protected forests
In parallel with the agroforestry component of the project, a reforestation campaign is being conducted by Agro-Map and local communities in the classified forests of Séguié and Rasso. Managed sustainably by the Water and Forestry Department of Ivory Coast, these forests, which are now protected, still contain patches that have been severely degraded by past deforestation. In order to work towards their restoration, villagers are given degraded plots of land, which they can cultivate on the condition that they plant forest and fruit trees. In total, 100 villagers have been given 55 hectares of degraded forest plots, of which 46 hectares will be reforested by the end of summer 2021. Of various forest species (Framiré, Fraké, Mahogany, Niangon, Cedrela, Teak), the 51106 trees currently being planted will allow the reconstitution of dense and perennial forest ecosystems and ensure the ecological continuity of the forests of Séguié and Rasso.
Train cocoa farmers to ensure their adherence
Because a reforestation project cannot be conceived without the mobilization of the local communities, our partner Agro-Map conducts, throughout the season, awareness and training activities for the cocoa producers and the managers of the cooperatives of the chocolate manufacturers who work with them. These workshops help to raise awareness of the project and ensure the involvement of the populations in it. They also aim to develop their technical skills in agroforestry and tree care, and to raise their awareness of the risks and solutions to bush fires in the dry season. In total, 4523 people were sensitized between January and June 2021. Reaching out to men and women in the field also allows Agro-Map to identify new sites to reforest or develop agro-forests, and thus continue to develop the project and its many benefits.
Finally, key elements of the project's success, the monitoring of the trees and the maintenance of the planted plots are carried out continuously by Agro-Map with the participation of the local communities. Emphasis is placed on the replacement of dying trees when necessary and on the installation of a firebreak system to protect the young forests from the frequent bushfires in the region.