Investigation links chocolate to destruction of national parks

Chocolate products produced by major brands have been linked to the destruction of national parks and protected areas, a new report claims.

The investigation by Mighty Earth, companies including Mars, Godiva, Hershey, Nestlé and Mondelēz International have been buying cocoa grown illegally through the deforestation of national parks and other protected areas in the world’s two largest cocoa growing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

According to Mighty Earth, growers have moved into national parks, classified forests and other protected areas in Ivory Coast, while forests outside these areas have already been almost completely cleared. In Ivory Coast, an estimated 30-40% of cocoa was grown illegally in protected areas. This deforestation, it adds, has nearly eliminated the country’s chimpanzee and forest elephant populations.

Prince Charles earlier this year persuaded 34 of the world’s leading chocolate companies to pledge to issue a plan to act on deforestation at the climate summit in Bonn in November.

However, Mighty Earth says the companies provided no specifics and it’s unclear whether they will take real action to either stop future deforestation or remediate the enormous past deforestation.

“The extent to which big chocolate brands like Mars are linked to destruction of national parks and protected areas is shocking,” says Etelle Higonnet, Mighty Earth campaign and legal director. “These companies need to take immediate action to end deforestation once and for all, and remediate past damage.”

Higonnet adds, “This report shows that the chocolate industry’s long history of heralding their own commitment to sustainability hasn’t stopped them from engaging in egregious behavior. Prince Charles has managed however to get the industry to finally start talking about doing something real, creating a unique moment in which change is possible.”

Click here to see the full report.

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