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Sweet tooth causes mass deforestation in Africa

A farmer holds an open cocoa pod at his farm in Anyama, Ivory Coast.

Sweet tooth causes mass deforestation in Africa

West Africa's Ivory Coast has lost 80% of its rainforest as a result of a worldwide demand for chocolate.

Sweet tooth causes mass deforestation in Africa

The ever-growing chocolate industry is having disastrous effects on Ivory Coast’s protected rainforest. Throughout the West African country, national parks are rapidly being deforested to make way for cocoa plants. These illegal beans are then mixed with legal ones and sold to big chocolate brands including Nestlé, Herschel and Mars, reports The Guardian.

With 40% of the world’s cocoa originating from Ivory Coast, it’s no surprise that since 1960 the country’s rainforest has reduced by over 80%. Where rainforest initially covered a quarter of Ivory Coast, it now covers less than 4%. This has severe repercussions on wildlife and plant species, presenting a gloomy outlook for the future; environmental group Mighty Earth estimate that by 2030 Ivory Coast will have no rainforest left at all.

Ethical issues also surround the illegal deforestation, wherein local farmers and residents lose their precious forest for chocolate bars they cannot afford to buy.

In light of the recent revelations, Nestlé issued a statement declaring they regard deforestation as “one of the most serious environmental challenges facing the world.” Chief Sustainability officer at Mars, Barry Parkin, agreed with his competitor: “Sustainable cocoa is too big a challenge for any one company to address,” he said. “That is why we are partnering with others in the industry to try and drive change at a global scale.”

Along with Herschel, the two chocolate businesses said they intend to sustainably source 100% of their cocoa by 2020.

 

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