Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, plans to legalize farming on almost 5 million acres (2 million hectares) of protected reserves.
INTERNATIONAL - Ivory Coast is planting one million trees in forests and cities across the country Friday as part of efforts to restore its primary forests.

The world’s biggest cocoa producer has 3 million hectares of forest cover, compared with 16 million hectares in 1900, according to the forestry ministry. The government estimates that at least a quarter of cocoa production takes place in protected forests.

When measuring loss as a percentage of total primary forest, the biggest decrease over the past 17 years has been in Madagascar and Ivory Coast, according to a study by the Global Forest Watch.

Apart from encouraging everyone to plant trees in a bid to reforest as much land as possible, the ministry has partnered with local start-up Seedballs, which distributes seeds of various species. They are coated in a charcoal paste for protection and only need to be placed on the ground to germinate.


“You can put them down or simply throw them” where you want the trees to grow, according to founder Sarah Traboulsi. “In addition to being economical, it saves time and it’s simple,” she said in a written response to questions. 

The organization has a social media awareness campaign on the country’s fight against deforestation. Celebrities, government officials and ordinary Ivorians have been posting photos of themselves holding up a piece of paper with #BringBackOurTrees, a play on the effort to free hundreds of school girls kidnapped by Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. 

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