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Cocoa plantations are associated with deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

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Peer-reviewed

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Abstract

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pCôte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s largest producers of cocoa, account for two thirds of the global cocoa production. In both countries, cocoa is the primary perennial crop, providing income to almost two million farmers. Yet precise maps of the area planted with cocoa are missing, hindering accurate quantification of expansion in protected areas, production and yields and limiting information available for improved sustainability governance. Here we combine cocoa plantation data with publicly available satellite imagery in a deep learning framework and create high-resolution maps of cocoa plantations for both countries, validated in situ. Our results suggest that cocoa cultivation is an underlying driver of over 37% of forest loss in protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire and over 13% in Ghana, and that official reports substantially underestimate the planted area (up to 40% in Ghana). These maps serve as a crucial building block to advance our understanding of conservation and economic development in cocoa-producing regions.</jats:p>

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Acknowledgements: The project received funding from Barry Callebaut Sourcing AG, as part of a Research Project Agreement (N.K.). We thank Barry Callebaut Sourcing AG for realizing the ground campaign together. In particular, we thank P.-A. Hourticq and S. Bamba for organizing, coordinating and conducting the survey on the ground. This research was funded through the 2019-2020 BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivClim ERA-Net COFUND programme, and with the funding organization of the Swiss National Science Foundation (C.R., T.A. and R.G.). We greatly appreciate the open data policies of the ESA Copernicus programme.

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Journal Title

Nature Food

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Journal ISSN

2662-1355

Volume Title

4

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC