Cocoa Accountability Map to help track cocoa-driven deforestation in Ghana launched

EcoCare Ghana in partnership with Mighty Earth, non-governmental organisation, has launched a new interactive Cocoa Accountability Map to help track cocoa-driven deforestation in Ghana.

The Map was developed as a result of the increasing number of lost forests despite the pledge from the government and the chocolate industry to reduce cocoa-driven carbon emission and forest loss. 

The new interactive map highlights deforestation hotspots, including those within protected areas and forest reserves, and shows their proximity to Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs) supplying major cocoa traders and chocolate companies.

Mr Obed Addai, Convener for EcoCare, speaking at the launch in Accra on Wednesday, stated that “latest figures shows 10,550 hectares of deforestation this year within cocoa-growing regions occurred with 8,188 hectares of this clearance occurring within forest reserves.”

He said his outfit had been working with RADD (Radar for Detecting Deforestation) forest-alert data from 2019 to identify areas of recent land clearance across Ghana which had lost more than 2.5 million hectares (Mha) (33.7 per cent) of its forest since the early 1990s.

Mr Addai  added that the open-source map for Ghanaian cocoa  industry consolidates data layers to provide greater transparency around deforestation linked to cocoa industry supply chains, visibility to cocoa cooperatives, with data released by Whittaker, Barry Callebaut, Olam, Blommer, Ecom, Ferrero, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and Tony’s Chocolonely.

The Senior Director for Africa at Mighty Earth, Dr Julian Oram, said that efforts to prevent cocoa farms from deforestation called for a proper remuneration for small scale farmers, creation of disincentive to farm in forest reserves and effective monitoring. 

On his part, the Senior Advisor at Mighty Earth, Mr Samuel Mawutor, said “the cocoa beans’ journey from farm to the first point of purchase is still the hardest to track and this is where beans from deforested areas can be mixed with those grown on legally cultivated land. The grim reality is that 30-40 per cent of cocoa is still untraceable.”

“Some chocolate companies are sitting on that information. Our map can be used to raise deforestation alerts and to hold big business accountable for bad practices. Locally, we’re promoting the use of agro forestry approaches, which give value to standing trees and help diversify farmer livelihoods”, he added.

A cocoa farmer from Adjoobo Okrase in the Eastern region, Mrs Evelyn Aziamati, said “protecting our livelihood means addressing deforestation and being aware of what is happening in our local area”.

“Tracking where the threats are can help us to raise the alarm before one hectare of deforestation becomes ten. Keeping our farms going and being able to provide for our families means growing cocoa sustainably and using standing forests to support our work”, she added.

By Benedicta Gyimaah Folley

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