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Wesleyan Journal of Research, Vol 14 No 07 (March 2021) ISSN – 0975-1386
Research article: (Geography)
Kouakou Ignace Kouadio
Institute: Lovely Professional University, Punjab, INDIA.
Ripudaman Singh
Institute: Lovely Professional University, Punjab, INDIA.
In 1960, the Ivory Coast had one of the richest biodiversity in Africa, between dense forests and
endemic animal species. Almost sixty years later, 90% of its forests have disappeared. The largest
cocoa producing country in the world representing nearly 50% of the international supply, Côte
d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) now exposes a landscape devastated in part by the cocoa industry, which
proceeds to an intensive and uncontrolled cultivation of cocoa. Massive land clearing, trafficking
in beans fraudulently cultivated in national parks or classified forests, and the reckless use of
pesticides have led to the disappearance of most of the Ivorian forest. Indeed, to cope with global
consumption which represents around 3 million tonnes per year and a demand which grows each
year by 2 to 5%, chocolate manufacturers very regularly obtain their supplies via illegal cocoa
exploitation systems set up in the main producing countries including Ivory Coast. At the heart of
this supply chain: the massive deforestation of national parks and residual forests, the wild
plantation of cocoa trees and their irrational cultivation, the very poor remuneration of small
producers or the too large number of intermediaries constantly looking for profits.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Cocoa, Forests, IORP, SODEFOR, Western Africa
Article History
*Received: 18/03/2021; Accepted: 25/03/2021
Corresponding author: Kouakou Ignace Kouadio
1- Introduction
The Ivory Coast, due to its geographical location, has different climatic zones. The peculiarities of
the relief and human influences determine several groups of plant landscapes [1]. These constitute
the various ecosystems of the country which are rich and abundant in biodiversity. However, the
Ivory Coast being an agricultural country, this situation has led to the misuse and overexploitation
of natural resources, particularly its forests. The Ivorian forest, which covered 12 million hectares
in 1956 and 09 million hectares in 1965, has only represented 2.7 million hectares since 1991 [2].
This exploitation of natural resources has seriously hampered the conservation of biological
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diversity. Faced with such a situation, the management of the forest heritage poses a major
challenge in the development policies of the Ivory Coast [2]. Thus, the State has adopted legislation
(Forest Code of 1995 and that of 2014) as well as several institutions including OIPR (Ivorian
Parks and Reserves Office) and SODEFOR (Forest Development Corporation). In addition, there
is a permanent state domain consisting of protected areas and classified forests. Despite all these
initiatives, the forest area is in continuous decline, causing a threat to biodiversity. So, what are
the causes of this growing deforestation? And what consequences does it have on biodiversity?
The aim of present work is to present the biodiversity of Ivory Coast in this context. It explores to
outline the causes of deforestation and the extent of its damage to biodiversity of this West African
country [3].
2- Definition and importance of Biodiversity
2.1- Definition
The concept of "biological diversity" first appeared in the writings of Thomas Lovejoy, an
American biologist, in 1980. The term "biodiversity" itself was coined in 1985, during the
preparation of the American Forum on Biological Diversity, and was used in the title of the
proceedings of that forum, in 1988. The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro [4], enabled the
establishment of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, enshrining this term. It
defines "Biological diversity as the variability of living organisms from all sources including,
among others, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of
which it is a part.; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” [5].
Genetic diversity, on the other hand refers to the variety that exists at the level that of entire genes
or that of chromosomal structure within species. In other words, it is the diversity of individuals
within each species. This genetic diversity is the source of the diversity of the adaptation
possibilities of individuals. Indeed, genetic variability increases the chances of a species to adapt
to changing environmental conditions and environmental impacts since some individuals will be
able to cope better with changes than others. The risks of genetic variation will be greater if the
number of individuals is large. We will often say that the genetic heritage is important [6].
Specific diversity is the variety that exists among different species found in a given area. However,
species diversity is not just the number of species found in a given area, habitat or ecosystem.
There are also large differences in the composition of a species over time. The physical conditions
that prevail in the ecosystems in which they live can also affect the diversity of species, such as
differences in temperature, light, structure and chemical composition. More than 1.4 million
species of plants, animals and micro-organisms have been recorded worldwide [6].
2.2- Importance of biodiversity in the life of living beings
Biodiversity is at the heart of our lives. Indeed, it provides irreplaceable and essential goods for
our daily lives (oxygen, food, medicines, many raw materials, etc.). The functions of ecosystems
(third level of biodiversity) are a good thing. They provide various services on which the survival
of humanity depends. Including, supply services, which are at the origin of the production of all
the natural resources directly useful to human beings such as agricultural foodstuffs, fish, fibers,
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wood, meat. hunting, water pharmacopoeia, etc; regulation services are the stabilizing and
regulating properties that ecosystems and the biosphere in general have on the climate (carbon
sequestration, etc.), the purification and regulation of water and air, protection against natural
disasters or the mitigation of their effects, recycling of waste and neutralization of pollutants,
pollination, protection of crops by predators of pests within the framework of complex trophic
chains, etc; and cultural services are the spiritual, religious, educational, recreational and aesthetic
contributions of ecosystems to the well-being and identity of human societies [7].
2.3- Biodiversity of Ivory Coast
The different climatic zones, the peculiarities of the relief and human influences, determine several
groups of vegetal landscapes in the Ivory Coast [1]. As a result, like most tropical countries, Côte
d'Ivoire is characterized by diverse ecosystems. Three distinct biogeographical zones can be
distinguished from south to north: the south and west zone, below the 8th parallel, excluding the
V-Baoulé, has long been characterized by primary forest (rain forest) [8]. It includes: coastal forest
made up of more or less halophilic species and mangrove forest along the country's lagoon
systems, lowland rainforest or evergreen, and mountain forests and savannas. The Sudanese and
South Sudanese savannah zone, above the 9th parallel, with corridors of gallery forests and its
open forests is made up of tree and shrub savannas [9]. Between these two zones is the transition
or pre-forest zone with the V-Baoulé. It has a mosaic of backgrounds. We also note the zone of
mesophilic (or semi-deciduous) forest. These different plant landscapes provide Ivory Coast with
a diversity of ecosystems. Indeed, these environments are subdivided into continental (terrestrial)
ecosystems and marine ecosystems. These different biotopes are home to an exceptional diversity
of life, both in terms of flora and fauna [10]. The terrestrial and aquatic biological diversity (all
organisms, plants and animals) of the Ivory Coast comprises 16,034 species overall [1].
3- Materials and methods
For mapping the biodiversity of Ivory Coast, computer tools and cartographic software such as
ArcGIS, QGIS, Google Earth are used to have a global and synthetic view of the study. For the
smooth analysis, several documents relating to the effects of urbanization on the ecosystems have
been consulted. Such literature review from relevant documents has provided information relating
to study area and related aspects. This aimed on the one hand to supplement the information
obtained through the documentary research and on the other hand to validate certain information
that have been obtained through the literature. Secondary data and information have been distilled
to depict the issue of deforestation and its impacts on the biodiversity in Ivory Coast.
4- Results
4.1- The direct causes of deforestation
Deforestation is the conversion of a forest to another form of land use or the long-term reduction
of the canopy below a 10% threshold. Deforestation causes permanent or long-term loss of forest
cover and transformation of the area for another use [11]. Ivory Coast lost more than 85% of its
forest cover between 1880 and 2008, mainly under the joint effect of agricultural expansion and
logging [3]. It is one of the tropical countries with the highest rates of deforestation. The economic
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development of the Ivory Coast relies heavily on agriculture. As a result, Ivorian forests are not
immune to this phenomenon of deforestation [12]. Production is strongly focused on export crops.
In the background come food crops such as rice, yams, plantains, cassava and maize. Cocoa and
coffee are the two export crops par excellence of the Ivory Coast. However, the development of
this plantation economy took place par excellence in the forest regions. Starting from the east in
the 1880s, this economy spread east-west, particularly south-west through the center-west [13].
However, agriculture is the greatest source of pressure on biological diversity in the south of the
country, which includes 65% of farms (having coffee, cocoa, rubber, pineapple, palm oil) [14].
Agriculture is still in many cases archaic. The slash-and-burn system and the need to use the fertile
soil in forest areas is very destructive of forest and in degraded areas it is a source of uncontrolled
fires. Cash crops themselves consume large areas. In 1965, agricultural speculations covered a
total area of 1,900,000 ha, or 6% of the national territory. In 1975, they occupied 11% and in 1990,
23% or 7,500,000 ha [15]. In such a context, agriculture will continue to be a factor of deforestation
given the evolution of cultivated areas over the years.
Logging for timber production has grown at a rapid pace not only to fuel the local timber
processing industry, but also for the export of timber [16]. Lumbering and the activities of the
timber sector have played and continue to play an important role in the Ivorian economy well
beyond a direct contribution to the GDP which remains below 2% for the timber industry. Third
export product for more than twenty years, this unsustainable exploitation accelerates the
disappearance of forests, and de facto of the fauna within them. Anarchic logging is well beyond
the capacity to renew the resource, timber for export and industry (on average 3 million m3 of logs
per year between 1969 and 1974) occurs in rural areas as well as in most classified forests and in
national parks [17]. Rogue loggers illegally exploit forest resources. Unfortunately, these bad
practices are often carried out with the complicity of neighbouring populations or that of the
forestry services close to the borders. There is therefore a lack of collaboration between the border
services of different countries, as well as an insufficiency in the control mechanism of these
services. This situation contributes to deforestation [18].
Every year, the savannah area and some forest regions are devastated by bush fires. They are often
caused by humans as part of hunting practices, renewal of pastures (breeders), preparation of
cropland (farmers). Fires are also used by some park managers for the control and maintenance of
vegetation, especially savannah, and for the management of pastures for wild herbivorous fauna.
According to the National Committee for the Defence of Forests Against Bush Fires (CNDFB),
70,530 ha. of FC were destroyed by bush fires, as well as 311,665 ha of the rural domain between
1983 and 2004 [19].
The collection of fuelwoods and the manufacture of charcoal is very large (as gas is not widely
used outside urban centres), and very destructive for the forest resource which escapes any control
by the forest administration. It estimated the fuelwood removal of 11 million m3. These collection
methods are linked in particular to the lack of diversification of energy sources [20].
4.2- Indirect causes of deforestation
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Along with the direct causes, other underlying, but equally important, causes have a negative
impact on the management of forest resources. These are the weakness of the steering of the
policies undertaken and the bad governance; Lack of coordination between forestry policy and
other sectoral policies; Lack of land security and demographic pressure (migration and growth);
As well as the socio-political crises and political instability of 2002 and 2010 years [21].
Demography, immigration and poverty; with a population of 4 million in 1960, the Ivory Coast
had a count of around 23 million in the last census in 2014. The country is characterized by the
presence of a significant proportion of foreign population on its soil. The geographic distribution
of the population shows an imbalance between the forest zone located in the southern half of the
country (78% of the total population) and the savannah zone (22%). This large, predominantly
agricultural population puts great pressure on agricultural land, thus contributing to deforestation.
In addition, uncontrolled population growth accentuates poverty and consequently an even greater
flow migrate to forest lands which represent illegal but "free" land reserves for agriculture [16].
With the degradation of the soil and the aging of the plantations, there is a drop in the standard of
living of the said populations and a shift in the coffee-cocoa loop. This amplifies deforestation in
order to create new, more productive plantations. According to Brou (2004), the country's climatic
distribution is closely related to the distribution of plants. The success of cash crops depends
closely on climatic conditions [22]. The disappearance of the forest cover would impact not only
a forestry sector, already in crisis, but more broadly the cocoa, rubber and rice producing areas
[23]. Generally, the resources available to forest management organizations are largely insufficient
(surveillance, reforestation, firefighting, etc.). This has led to a lack of monitoring of operations in
the forest. It is also observed that laxity, non-monitoring of infringements leading to the waste of
reforestation actions and destruction of forests. Anti-infiltration actions are rarely supported by the
police. SODEFOR can no longer fight alone against thousands of infiltrators [24]. Likewise,
ambitious reforestation programs are impossible with current human and financial resources.
Multiple reforestation projects, mapping, studies of the causes of various phenomena involved in
maintaining forest cover are blocked or do not see the light of day for lack of funding. An
inconsistency between the policies of the ministries which has led to contradictions, in particular
in the management of infiltrators in classified forests. In addition, there is competition between the
Ministry of Water and Forests in charge of protecting classified forests, and the Ministry in charge
of the environment, which manages parks and reserves, which are also forests. This underlines the
need to coordinate and harmonize all these policies having an impact on forest resources [15].
5- Discussions
5.1- The impact of deforestation on biodiversity
5.1.1- Loss of forest cover
Having specialized in agriculture and forestry since colonial times, the independent Ivory Coast
has based its development on agriculture. This resulted in a gradual loss of its forest heritage.
Indeed, the slogan of the first President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, "the land belongs to the
one who develops it", has since the 1960s reinforced the "race for the forest" of planters
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(indigenous and foreigners), who wanted to consolidate their land base and mark their property
rights through clearing and hasty planting [1]. This practice was guided by the following logic: "if
I do not exploit today, another will come to do it before me" [25]. The absence of authoritarian and
exclusive management by the state has therefore resulted in free access and a race for resources.
Ivory Coast now has only two million hectares of forests, almost 90% less than in the early 1960s.
Currently, 80% of Côte d'Ivoire's forests have disappeared in half a century [25]. From more than
16.5 million hectares at independence in 1960, Ivorian forest cover has gradually increased to
around 12 million ha in 1970 then to four million in 2000. Declining forest cover in general and
situation of urban forest of Banco National Park in Abidjan in particular depicts a dismal picture
[26]. The Ivorian forest, which occupied the entire southern half of the country, suffered a more
accelerated loss from the 1970s. Thus, if according to the most optimistic estimates, only 2.7
million hectares would remain, at the current rate of deforestation, Ivory Coast is expected to lose
all of its national forest cover by 2034 [21]. Today, the dense humid forest represents only 2 million
hectares of natural forest. Over the past ten years (1981 to 1991), the average rate of deforestation
has been 0.89% per year [22]. So, despite growing concerns around the world about forest
destruction, losses have continued to accelerate. The annual rate of deforestation has been
estimated at 3.5% over the period 1980-2008 [10], which is one of the highest in the world [15].
Already, between 1955 and 1988, deforestation reached an alarming level. The map below (figure
1) clearly shows the speed with which the forest areas in the south of the country have been
transformed into agricultural areas.
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Source: OIPR 2009
Indeed, the forests of the protected areas of Ivory Coast are subject to strong pressures, likely to
call into question their future [11]. These last witnesses of the important Ivorian forest cover
continue to decline and deteriorate. The socio-political crisis of 2002 accelerated the situation
further. Protected areas were seen as a space to be occupied for agriculture and which furthermore
contained an abundant market resource. The rate of degradation of these habitats varied from one
area to another: Taï Park (less than 1%), Marahoué Park (between 20 and 50%). The degradation
of classified forests has also been very significant, with average rate of forest degradation varying
between 40 and 50% of the area of each forest [1]. The areas of agricultural plantations located in
classified forests amounted to 630,119 ha in 1999, amongst these cash crops are the most important
including coffee, cocoa, rubber, etc. [15].
5.1.2- The decline of flora and fauna
This deforestation is the cause of the destruction of habitats of animal and plant species, habitat
fragmentation, biological invasions and overexploitation of wildlife resources, often doomed to
disappear. Linked largely to the shifting slash-and-burn system, the growth of traditional
agricultural production continues to this day at the cost of particularly rapid deforestation [22].
The development of export agriculture has been all the more devastating for biological diversity
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as it has mainly taken place in the south of the country, an area of extensive forest ecosystems,
whose biological richness is known. The consequences of this agricultural development are the
loss and fragmentation of insulating natural environments. The impact on wildlife ranges from the
impoverishment of certain animal populations to the local extinction of species: Elephant, Lion,
Panther, Jentink's Duiker, Dwarf Hippopotamus, Chimpanzee, Monkey etc. Today, some protected
areas are relegated to "paper reserves" because they have been destroyed or invaded by
populations of foreign origins, as is the case for the Marahoué or Mont Péko National Park [19].
Thus, in 2008, the following losses on biodiversity were estimated as out of the 232 species of
animals, 26 are classified by the IUCN as rare or threatened with extinction, including some
antelopes, 4 species of primates and the pygmy hippopotamus; amongst birds, 7 species of forest
birds are threatened with extinction and 59 are listed in the IUCN endangered species category;
for reptiles, 3 species of crocodiles and sea turtles have reached critical levels; and among
amphibians in the forest area, 8 species have been considered endangered, including two endemic
species in the southwest of the country [5]. Concerning the flora, from 1960 to the present day, 26
species of vascular plants have disappeared or are only encountered nowadays. 70 species are
endangered or become rare because of overexploitation or because their specific sites are
disturbed. Mangroves constitute a buffer environment between the lagoon waters, directly in
contact with the sea and the mainland. Consequently, these ecosystems are linked to seasonal
inputs and movements of fresh, lagoon and marine waters. Unfortunately, they are currently
experiencing various threats with the immediate consequence of destroying this biotope. Besides
this, the exploitation of mangrove woods for services is also increasing. Thus, the exploitation rate
estimated at less than 20% in the 1980s reaches in places 60 to 80% after 2004 [5].
5.2- National Forest Protection System
5.2-1. International conventions
Ivory Coast’s commitment to the protection of its environment in general has been manifested
nationally and internationally. At the international level, its action has resulted in the accession to
numerous international conventions, including those relating to: wetlands of international
importance, particularly as waterfowl habitat (Ramsar, February 1971 - accession in February
1993, ratification in 1996), the protection of world, cultural and natural heritage (Paris, November
1972 - accession in November 1977), international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and
flora (CITES, March 1973 - accession in November 1994) , conservation of migratory species
belonging to wild fauna (Bonn Convention, June 1979 - signatory, ratification procedure in
progress), biological diversity (Rio De Junero, June 1992 - ratification in November 1994), climate
change (Rio De Junero , June 1992 - ratification in November 1994), to the fight against
desertification in countries seriously affected by drought and / or desertification, particularly in
Africa (Paris, June 1994 ratification in May 1997).
More recently, the country participated in the last two climate conferences, namely COP 21 from
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November 30 to December 12, 2015 in Paris and COP 22 from November 7 to 18, 2016 in
Marrakesh, Morocco [28].
5.2.2- National Legal and institutional measures
Beyond its international involvement, the governments have set up legal and institutional standards
to allow the conservation of natural resources but also a sustainable use of its forest resources.
Having realized the importance of good management of forest resources, the Ivorian government
has been engaged in recent years in a profound reform of the texts regulating the sector which
resulted in the publication of Law No. 2014-427. of July 14, 2014 on the forest code. Forest
regulations in Ivory Coast were based until 2014 on two important laws: Law No. 65-255 of August
4, 1965, relating to the protection of wildlife and the practice of hunting and Law No. 65-425 of
December 20, 1965, establishing the forestry code. It defined not only the forests as well as the
protection and reforestation areas, but also the various categories of rights applicable in the forestry
sector, including the issuance of logging concessions in forests in the State domain [27]. The
Ivorian forests are divided into two domains according to decree no. 78-231 of March 15, 1978:
The Rural Forest Domain, in which priority is given to the development of agriculture and The
Permanent Forest Estate of the State (DFPE), which brings together all classified forests (FC),
national parks, reserves and protection perimeters. Thus, the Ivory Coast has a network of 13
protected areas made up of eight national parks and five nature reserves. The reform of logging,
introduced by decree no. 94-368 of 1 July 1994 stipulates that logging is now theoretically
practiced below the 8th parallel through logging perimeters, with an area of minimum of 25,000
ha in the rural area, instead of the temporary exploitation permits (PTE) of 2,500 ha, which dated
from 1966 and through conventions in classified forests. In a very synthetic way, the forest code
2014 replaces the forest code of 1965 which is unsuited to the new socio-economic, technical and
environmental requirements of the Ivory Coast. This text introduces new rules and more
particularly, it introduces a new definition of the forest and takes into account all the socio-
economic, educational, tourist, scientific and environmental dimensions of forests through a
classification based on the classified forest domain on the one hand and on the other, on the
protected forest domain [28]. We also have the co-management which is being used in Banco
National Park; To curb the exploitation of wood and non-wood resources as well as poaching, co-
management (community and mutual management system of the GNP) has been implemented
since 2002 by the administrators of the park by integrating the populations into the protection
policy of the forest with a view to sustainable development. The co-management policy is a
participatory management system that allows neighbouring populations to participate voluntarily
in the protection of the Banco forest area and to benefit in return from the financial losses generated
by tourist exploitation and direct and indirect jobs
linked to development activities. Tourist reception points, guide points and neighbourhoods’
hostels are set up and managed by a local workforce recruited from women and young people [6]
Wesleyan Journal of Research, Vol. 14 No. 07
6- Conclusion
Forests help maintain biological diversity and provide many ecosystem services. The biodiversity
of Ivory Coast is varied. But deforestation is such that this wealth is gradually disappearing. The
causes are essentially anthropogenic. However, the most dominant is agriculture. Techniques,
laws, procedures and policies must improve for greater efficiency. But above all, we must change
the mentality of people. Otherwise, the decisions taken will have no effect. Changing mentalities
certainly takes time; it is as important a long-term investment as planting trees. Ultimately, as
Leroy (1991) has described the best and only lesson is to "save man first to save the forest".
Wesleyan Journal of Research, Vol. 14 No. 07
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... The relief and climatic diversities have been influencing its vegetations. Being a developing agricultural country, its growing population has been a threat to its forests for need of more and more agricultural lands (Kouadio and Singh, 2021). Over the time, its forest cover has been reduced to less than 2.7 million hectares since 1991, which was more than 12 million hectares in 1950s. ...
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The issue of conservation of the Ivorian forest and its resources has been at the centre of the concerns of the public authorities since the 1960s. Thus, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has set up a network of protected areas in general and several national parks in particular, to conserve its forest areas and their biodiversity. Located in Abidjan, the Banco National Park (BNP) and its periphery have undergone profound environmental changes in recent decades. These changes, mainly linked to human activities and the rapid urbanization of the Abidjan district, are causing the degradation of the BNP forest. Present paper aims to describe and analyse the various threats linked to urban pressure, in particular the risks of deforestation and pollution, which expose certain areas of the BNP. To achieve these objectives, the analysis of the evolution of vegetation, types of land use, territorial re-compositions and the games of the different actors are used to understand the environmental dynamics of the BNP forest and its periphery. The inventory and mapping of types of risk as well as their impacts on BNP make it possible to identify the area’s most vulnerable to human pressures and urbanization. The study is based on an aerial photograph of 1955 and a Spot satellite image taken in 1998 and recent image (2020) on google earth. The aerial photograph was acquired from the Centre for Cartography and Remote Sensing (CCT-Abidjan) and the National Geographic Institute (IGN- Paris). The satellite image was obtained using Spot Image's ISIS program. These data made it possible to map land cover in 1955, 1998 and 2020 and to compare the changing patterns of vegetation through a spatial analysis.
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