Nestlé has partnered with the Ministry of Water and Forests of Côte d’Ivoire in a project aimed at protecting and restoring a classified forest, and strengthening the resilience of local communities. Cavally forest reserve is one of 234 classified forests in Côte d’Ivoire. According to Nestlé, deforestation in the country has reduced the area of its forests from 16 million to 3.5 million hectares between 1960 and 2015, and the Classified Forest of Cavally is also under threat. Nestlé is investing CHF 2.5 million ($2.7 million approx.) on efforts to end deforestation within the reserve and restore degraded forest. The company says that the funds will also support transition pathways for farmers currently producing in the reserve and promote regenerative agriculture in surrounding areas. The project will be implemented by Côte d’Ivoire’s Forest Agency (SODEFOR) and Earthworm Foundation, working in collaboration with other stakeholders including the cocoa communities. “A sustainable production of cocoa that benefits local communities, the environment and the economic development of the country is possible,” said Nestlé’s cocoa plan manager, Darrell High. “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 Côte d’Ivoire and preserves farmers’ livelihoods.” Magdi Batato, executive VP, director of operations at Nestlé, added: “The fight against cocoa-related deforestation is part of Nestlé’s ambition to transform its agricultural supply chain by making it more climate-friendly and more resilient.” The government of Côte d’Ivoire recently adopted a national policy for the preservation, rehabilitation and extension of forests. Alain Richard Donwahi, Ivorian Minister for Water and Forests, said: “This partnership will strengthen our commitment to fight against deforestation caused in part by cocoa cultivation in Côte d’Ivoire and to strengthen the resilience of communities and cocoa producers. “I am wishing for a successful implementation and hoping it becomes a replicable model for us to scale-up to other forests.” The Swiss F&B giant also recently partnered with the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, as part of IDH’s Grown Sustainably in Africa (GSA) programme, which encourages companies like Nestlé to increase local sourcing. Nestlé says that the three-year collaboration aims to support 25,000 farmers and 50 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as open up new markets for these communities in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, increasing employment and food security.