Nestlé has announced an investment of CHF 2.5 million (€2.33 million) to protect and restore the Cavally forest reserve in Ivory Coast.
It will also support local communities residing around the reserve to transition into regenerative agriculture.
The food giant has partnered with the ministry of water and forests of Ivory Coast to execute the project.
'Strengthen Our Commitment'
Alain Richard Donwahi, Ivorian minister for water and forests, commented, “This partnership will strengthen our commitment to fight against deforestation caused in part by cocoa cultivation in Ivory Coast and to strengthen the resilience of communities and cocoa producers.
“I am wishing for successful implementation and hoping it becomes a replicable model for us to scale-up to other forests.”
Cavally forest reserve is one of 234 classified forests in Ivory Coast and a biodiversity hotspot under threat due to deforestation, Nestlé added.
The country’s forest cover decreased from 16 million hectares in 1960 to 3.5 million hectares in 2015, mainly due to smallholder agriculture.
'Transform Our Agricultural Supply Chain'
Executive vice-president and head of operations at Nestlé, Magdi Batato, said, "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.”
The Côte d'Ivoire's Forest Agency (SODEFOR) and Earthworm Foundation will collaborate with other stakeholders, including the cocoa communities to implement the project, Nestlé said.
Its primary goal is to ensure that future farmers and communities cultivate cocoa and other crops outside Cavally forest areas.
The project is in line with Nestlé's participation in the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) and its action plan, which aims to end deforestation in its cocoa supply chain as well as preserving and restoring existing forests.
Nestlé's cocoa plan manager, Darrell High, added, "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 Ivory Coast and preserves farmers' livelihoods."