Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Beki Forest Reserve

Cote d'Ivoire
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Located in southeastern Cote d'Ivoire, Beki Forest Reserve was one of 230 forest reserves established in the country in 1965. In 1971, Beki Forest Reserve covered 16 764 hectares. By 1986 its forested area had decreased by about one-fifth to 12 816 hectares. In 1995, less than one-third of the 1971 extent remained, representing an annual rate of loss around 4.5 per cent.

Much of this deforestation began in the 1980s when the government resettled two villages away from the Comoé River and adjacent to the Beki Forest Reserve. The villages had been afflicted with an outbreak of onchocerciasis (river blindness) carried by blackflies that live near fast flowing water. To facilitate the village resettlements, authorities allowed the villagers to exploit land within the Reserve. Unfortunately, no limits were set on this authorized exploitation, and by the mid-1990s cultivation of cocoa and coffee covered much of the original forest area. In the images above, decimation of Beki Forest Reserve is apparent between 1986 and 2003, in contrast to the Bossematie Forest Reserve to the southeast.

In Cote d'Ivoire, cocoa plantations currently cover two million hectares, and have caused the loss of a significant portion of the country's natural forests. Cote d'Ivoire produced 1.275 million metric tonnes of cocoa in 2004/2005. Coffee and cocoa generate 50 per cent of the country's total export revenues and one-third of the population depends on cocoa cultivation.
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