In acknowledging the close linkages between deforestation and cocoa expansion in recent decades, the National REDD+ Strategy places a strong emphasis on moving towards zero-deforestation agriculture, inpartnership with supply chain organizations and the private sector.

In the case of cocoa, this includes contributing to restoring forest cover to 20% of land area by 2030. Agroforestry has been identified as a solution to effectively contribute to the long-term sustainability of the cocoa sector and the national effort to restore the Ivorian forest cover.

The National REDD+ Strategy plans to rehabilitate 1 million hectares of cocoa plantations in degraded classified forests through this system by 2030. Côte d’Ivoire also aims to promote agroforestry in cocoa plantations, aiming to increase non-cocoa tree density to at least 50 trees/hectare to secure timber and fuelwood supply and diversify farmers’ incomes while supporting food security, increasing carbon stocks and resilience to climate change. This will further reduce cocoa-driven deforestation by 2030.

Beyond the need to address the financial, technical and legal constraints to the adoption of agroforestry practices at different levels, there is the need to understand how far agroforestry can contribute to achieving national forest restoration targets, and the locations where cocoa agroforestry can achieve carbon and non-carbon benefits simultaneously. This means considering which areas are most suitable for current and future cocoa production, their current status and options for increasing or restoring tree cover. 

UNEP-WCMC in collaboration with UNEP, the Secrétariat Executif Permanent REDD+ of Côte d’Ivoire and Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire previously developed spatial analyses to identify areas where forest conservation and restoration could provide benefits such as biodiversity conservation, soil erosion control and climate change mitigation. The CocoaSoils program will now build on this work and on analyses conducted under the program, including the mapping and characterising of environmental conditions for cocoa growing in West Africa by CIAT, to spatially explore the potential role of cocoa agroforestry as a forest restoration option and for what benefits. Furthermore, a stakeholder identification has been initiated and they will be consulted on definitions and criteria (forests, agroforestry etc), data availability and outputs.