Mighty Earth has launched its new Cocoa Accountability Map for Ghana to help address cocoa-driven deforestation.
Despite pledges by the Ghanaian government and the chocolate industry to reduce cocoa-driven carbon emissions and forest loss, the latest figures show 10,550 hectares of deforestation in 2022 within cocoa-growing regions.
A total of 8,188 hectares of this clearance occur within forest reserves.
Mighty Earth worked with RADD (Radar for Detecting Deforestation) forest-alert data from 2019 [till now] to identify areas of recent land clearance across Ghana; which has lost more than 2.5 million hectares (Mha) (33.7%) of its forest since the early 1990s.
The open-source map for the Ghanaian cocoa industry consolidates data layers to provide greater transparency around deforestation linked to cocoa industry supply chains.
The initiative provides 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, explained that to “prevent cocoa from deforested areas ending up in chocolate products, but two things need to happen; Firstly, small-scale farmers, which are the bedrock of the industry, need to be properly remunerated, creating a disincentive to farming in forest reserves, or protected areas. Secondly, we need effective monitoring, which is where our Ghana Cocoa Accountability Map comes in.”
Dr Oram added that the “aim is for farmers, cocoa companies, NGOs, and governmental organizations to work together to end deforestation in supply chains and meet commitments for full traceability from farm gate to the chocolate product.”
The new interactive map highlights deforestation hotspots, including those within protected areas and forest reserves, and shows their proximity to Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) 3 supplying major cocoa traders and chocolate companies.
The Senior Advisor at Ghana at Mighty Earth, Sam Mawutor, raised concerns over tsaid: “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% 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 businesses accountable for bad practices. Locally we’re promoting the use of agroforestry approaches, which give value to standing trees and help diversify farmer livelihoods.”
Mighty Earth is training local cocoa farmer cooperatives and Ghana CSO Cocoa Platform members to use the map collaboratively to gain further insight into traceability at the local level, beyond the LBC locations published by corporations.
A cocoa farmer from Adjoobo Okrase in the Eastern Region, Evelyn Aziamati, said that: “Protecting our livelihoods 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.”
About Mighty Earth
Mighty Earth is a global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet. Its goal is to protect half of Earth for Nature and secure a climate that allows life to flourish. We are obsessed with impact and aspire to be the most effective environmental advocacy organization in the world.
Our team has achieved transformative change by persuading leading industries to dramatically reduce deforestation and climate pollution throughout their global supply chains in palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and animal feed while improving livelihoods for Indigenous and local communities across the tropics.