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Date: 2024-05-18 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00025555

Ivory Coast deforestation rate rises as EU green imports law looms

Original article:
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY
I was struck by the datapoint in the article that the Cote-d'Ivoire 'has lost more than 85% of its forests since 1960, mostly due to cocoa'

In the 1970s the company I worked for had a shrimp fishing fleet operating in West Africa including the Cote d'Ivoire. In our efforts to identify other business opportunities, we looked at possible agricultural ventures and several years later long after I left the fishing company I worked with a company engaged in many aspects of agriculture and livestock development.

This company ... or group of companies ... operated a banana plantation, processed and exported cacao and coffee, and ran a poulty operation. Though the companies were well managed the economic and geo-political environment was not favorable for a locally owned company. Bluntly put ... better to be an importer in Europe or the USA than an exporter from an African country! Though the colonial era ended many decades ago, much of the trading regulation and rules and attitudes have remained.

I am bothered ... and angry ... that one of the outcomes of the past many decades is the massive deforestation of the country. Many ... essentially most ... of the countries in Africa have very problematic economies and societies where quality of life is poor and mostly getting worse.
Peter Burgess
Ivory Coast deforestation rate rises as EU green imports law looms By Maytaal Angel September 29, 2023 9:59 AM EDT Companies Ivory Coast Inc LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Deforestation in top cocoa producer Ivory Coast increased last year after declining for several years, a major report has found, raising questions about how the country will comply with a new EU law preventing commodity imports linked to forest loss. The report was published by the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), a UN-backed partnership launched in 2017, when Ivory Coast, No. 2 cocoa grower Ghana and more than 30 major cocoa and chocolate companies signed onto it at the COP 23, in Germany. Since 2019, the annual progress report published by the CFI has found consistent declines in rates of forest loss in Ivory Coast. Last year however, the trend reversed, with 62,000 hectares of forest lost after 26,000 hectares in 2021. The report highlights the challenges of ending deforestation - the second leading cause of climate change after the burning of fossil fuels. It did not give reasons for the resurgence in deforestation rates, saying they are still being studied. Ivory Coast's Ministry of Water and Forests had no immediate comment on the deforestation rate increase. It is ramping up efforts to comply with the EU's new deforestation law, which comes into effect as of end-2024. Companies importing commodities like coffee, cocoa, beef, soy, rubber and palm oil - and related products - into the EU, will have to prove their goods are not contributing to deforestation anywhere in the world, or risk hefty fines. 'The CFI is a strong partnership ... but we are not where we need to be,' Daan Wensing, chief executive of the non-profit IDH - a co-signatory of the CFI - said in statement. 'Deforestation in West-Africa continues to increase: this trend needs to be reversed. All actors need to step-up, and (put) plans into action.' Cocoa accounts for about 15% of Ivory Coast's GDP and more than 40% of its export earnings. The EU is its biggest cocoa buyer, meaning it would be costly for Abidjan to lose access to even a small portion of this market due to the new law. However, of the roughly 2 million tonnes of cocoa the West African country produces each year, between 20-30% is grown illegally in protected forests by an estimated 1.3 million people, many of them children. Ivory Coast, a developing, cash-stripped nation that has lost more than 85% of its forests since 1960, mostly due to cocoa, is struggling to provide alternate livelihoods for these people outside of the forests. (This story has been refiled to clarify that Ivory Coast had no immediate comment, rather than declined to comment, in paragraph 5) Reporting by Maytaal Angel; editing by Philippa Fletcher Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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