Côte d'Ivoire has one of the highest rates of deforestation in Africa, estimated at 2.69% annually. Deforestation is mainly attributable to agriculture (62%), with cocoa, rubber and palm oil in the lead, followed by illegal logging and firewood production. Deforestation is more pronounced in the Bélier Region in Central Côte d'Ivoire, estimated at 2.97% annually. To remedy this, Côte d'Ivoire has committed to REDD+ since 2011. Restoration is a core component of the country’s National REDD+ Strategy, which aims to restore 20% of the national forest cover while achieving poverty reduction from a social, cultural and gender equity perspective.
The Bélier Region, which has less than 2% of its total area left as forest, is a statutory member of the Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF-TF). This task force supports the protection of tropical forests, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promoting realistic pathways for rural development. As a result of this partnership, the Bélier Region was selected as a pilot to implement a GCF-TF project aimed at deploying forest ecosystem restoration solutions, in alignment with the national objectives of REDD+ and the Forest Protection, Restoration, and Extension National Strategy 2019-2030.
With technical support from the UN-REDD team, a participatory and inclusive dialogue was conducted under the leadership of the Regional Council of Bélier. This led to the development and validation of the Strategic Plan for Forest Landscape Restoration in Bélier. The strategic plan includes protection and restoration of forests and adaptation to climate change; improvement of living conditions for local communities in restored forest landscapes; development of economic opportunities associated with forest landscape restoration; and strengthening land use governance in the Bélier Region.
The strategic plan also aims to improve the living conditions of women and men in the community by strengthening food security and land tenure to reduce the risk of conflict. It seeks to support women’s empowerment and young people's employability, reducing rural poverty through the development of economic opportunities around conservation, sustainable management and restoration of forest ecosystems.
A high-level workshop was organized in March, 2021 to share experiences and lessons learned from the development of the strategic plan in the Bélier Region. More than 74 participants from the private sector, civil society, government and key representatives from other jurisdictions attended the workshop. The workshop was attended by the Minister of Sanitation and Salubrity, President of the Cavally Regional Council, Anne Désirée Ouloto, and Advisor to the President and Prime Minister in charge of Agriculture and the Environment, Fofana Mamadou.
Bertrand Tessa, Regional Technical Specialist for Africa, UNDP Climate & Forests Programme
Jean Paul Aka, REDD+ Expert, UNDP Green Commodities Programme/UN-REDD, Côte d’Ivoire