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Starling data is helping the Ivory Coast government rebuild forest cover in the Cavally Forest
Starling data is helping the Ivory Coast government rebuild forest cover in the Cavally Forest
News 18 oct. 2019

In the Cavally Forests of Côte d'Ivoire, illegal cocoa plantations observed using satellite technology have been destroyed and left to regrow. The former plantations now consist of shrubs and grass, some of which reach more than two meters in height. From January 2018 to June 2019, the rate of deforestation in the Cavally Forest fell 7.4 percent.

A classified forest plagued by deforestation

The Cavally Forest is one of 234 classified forests in Côte d'Ivoire. Located in the Zagné sub-prefecture of the Guiglo region in the west of the country, the Cavally Forest covers an area of 67,593 Ha (Source : SODEFOR, Plan d’aménagement du Cavally, 2014-2024). A victim of deforestation performed “under the canopy” of taller trees, the Cavally Forest was a difficult one to preserve.

"It is under the thick leafy cover of trees (the canopy) that farmers clear the land to plant cocoa. Because in the beginning, cocoa plants need the shade of the taller trees, which make up the forest cover, to grow. Only when cocoa plants grow and start making flowers and fruits do they need more light. It is from this moment that the biggest trees of the forest are destroyed by the illegal planters by setting fire to the trunks or by barking them completely. It is then too late to avoid deforestation," says Gerome Tokpa, Earthworm Foundation Manager in Africa.

Satellite technology to curb this deforestation

The situation at the Cavally Forest has improved considerably since the efforts by the Forest Development Corporation (SODEFOR), Earthworm Foundation and Airbus began in December 2017, when the Cavally Forest Spatial Monitoring Project was initiated using Starling. STARLING is a satellite technology that combines high-resolution satellite images and radar images to allow for unbiased monitoring of forest cover changes, especially those below the canopy.

From December 2017 to July 2018, thanks to Starling, an up-to-date reference map of the Cavally Forest has been established. The tool has made it possible to develop an up-to-date reference map of the forest and to detect, with a 95 percent precision rate, the disturbances that the forest experiences. The alerts, which the tool emits regularly at each clearing of the forest, have allowed SODEFOR to take rapid and targeted measures, including the destruction of plantations.

Positive results observed

"Since the introduction of the base map, we’ve noted a decrease in the rate of forest degradation. Throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, it decreased around 7.4 percent," says Ibrahima Fofana, Project Manager at Earthworm Foundation.

According to the SODEFOR field teams, the decline in the Cavally Forest degradation are linked to the precision of information from Starling alerts, which leads to actions such as increased patrols and clearing the land of illegal plantations.

The forest is regenerating by itself

Following a field mission led by SODEFOR and Earthworm Foundation officers in July 2019, it turned out that old cocoa plots destroyed in 2018 and 2019 became fallow shrubs. These shrubs consisted of bushes and herbs over two meters in height, without new tree seeds being planted.

For the General Director of SODEFOR, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamadou Sangaré, “this is a sign of hope in achieving the objectives of rebuilding the Ivorian forest cover.” He looks forward and hopes that “satellite monitoring combined with field missions in the Cavally Forest can be extended to other forests in the country.”

Before that happens, however, the challenge of delimitation of forests such as Cavally must be addressed. Because rubber and cocoa plantations encroach on these limits and could, if nothing is done in the long run, reduce the area of these forests.

Positive results observed

"Since the introduction of the base map, we’ve noted a decrease in the rate of forest degradation. Throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, it decreased around 7.4 percent," says Ibrahima Fofana, Project Manager at Earthworm Foundation.

According to the SODEFOR field teams, the decline in the Cavally Forest degradation are linked to the precision of information from Starling alerts, which leads to actions such as increased patrols and clearing the land of illegal plantations.

The forest is regenerating by itself

Following a field mission led by SODEFOR and Earthworm Foundation officers in July 2019, it turned out that old cocoa plots destroyed in 2018 and 2019 became fallow shrubs. These shrubs consisted of bushes and herbs over two meters in height, without new tree seeds being planted.

For the General Director of SODEFOR, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamadou Sangaré, “this is a sign of hope in achieving the objectives of rebuilding the Ivorian forest cover.” He looks forward and hopes that “satellite monitoring combined with field missions in the Cavally Forest can be extended to other forests in the country.”

Before that happens, however, the challenge of delimitation of forests such as Cavally must be addressed. Because rubber and cocoa plantations encroach on these limits and could, if nothing is done in the long run, reduce the area of these forests.

Actualités associées:

Domaines d'engagement:
Des forêts en bonne santé

Solutions:
Starling

Produits:
Cacao

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