“He Who Planted a Tree Did Not Live in Vain”

Dosso Amara

Director, Abengourou Management Center

Dosso Amara looks after the forests of the Indénié-Djuablin region in Côte d’Ivoire, and he is proud of his job: “He who planted a tree before he died did not live in vain (…) I am sure that here lies the future of Côte d’Ivoire.”

Indénié-Djuablin was historically a forest region, but “today, the forest has practically disappeared”. According to Global Forest Watch, Côte d’Ivoire has lost 26% of its humid primary forest since 2002. The government and cocoa and chocolate companies have launched the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to combat cocoa-related deforestation there.

Thankfully, Indénié-Djuablin protected areas such as Beki or Bossematié still have fairly large forest areas. But they are also threatened. Dosso Amara thinks everyone should get involved in protecting these forests. “Today the situation is such that this importance is obvious,” he says. “We no longer control the seasons so we can no longer manage to set the crop in a suitable way. The rain is no longer under control. It’s eye-popping. We must protect the forest to restore the balance in the face of climate change.”

To reconcile cocoa farming and forests, Dosso Amara has a strategy: “The first thing is to make farmers understand that the issue should not be the conquest of space, but rather productivity. On a small surface, we can make a very high production. Secondly, farmers need to be made to understand that agroforestry is the solution, that cocoa can produce under forest trees.”

The Sodefor executive is not sure what the future holds and identifies more threats to Ivorian forests: “Unfortunately, the problem of migration is a very, very fundamental problem that we must seek to solve: because the newcomers who come are not aware. And even if they are sensitized, it doesn’t matter to them. They think that since the others already have agricultural plots [they should too]”.

Those who are already in the forest are now generally in agreement to do agroforestry and not to do any new clearings. If everyone falls within this framework, there is reason to be optimistic,” concludes Dosso Amara.