Region: Juabeso Bia and Kakum Hotspot Intervention Areas
Focus: Cocoa producers, companies, and government committed to monitoring and communicating progress toward reducing deforestation and ensuring social benefits
Strategic Partners: Juabeso Bia HIA: Touton, Olam, Ecom, Mondelez, and Cargill
Kakum HIA: Hershey, Ecom, Lindt Chocolate Foundation, Olam, Nyonkopa, Touton

Download a factsheet about this pilot here.

Country Context

Source: Global Forest Watch

Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa.1 Modern cocoa production mostly uses varieties and practices with low yields that take up large tracts of land. This, in combination with the growth of extractive industries, have underpinned Ghana’s 3.2% rate of deforestation in Ghana’s tropical high forests2and this rate is growing. This trend not only threatens biodiversity (in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots) and increases GHG emissions, but it also puts cocoa production itself at risk by degrading the ecosystem that supports it. This, in turn, jeopardizes the livelihoods of the farmers and forest-users who depend on them.

To address this crisis, Ghana initiated the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program. The program aims to reduce deforestation across the largest cocoa-producing area by

  • implementing climate-smart cocoa strategies, and
  • investing in landscape governance and planning mechanisms through the creation of Hotspot Intervention Areas (HIAs)3— priority areas for coordinated interventions at the farm to landscape level.

To support this program, the majority of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies signed a commitment in 2017 to create, in partnership with the government of Ghana, a no-deforestation supply chain. This requires ending deforestation from cocoa production, restoring forest areas, and ensuring producers can thrive.

[1] The main ingredient in chocolate.
[2] Government of Ghana, 2017. Emission Reductions Program Document: Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program. Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Accra, Ghana.
[3] The GCFRP program will be implemented in HIA landscapes (hotspots in terms of cocoa production, forests, and the presence of key stakeholders). HIAs will serve as priority areas for coordinated interventions at the farm to landscape level.  Each HIA will be governed by a local management board of land owners, farmers, and community leaders (including women and other minority groups) that will work in formal partnership with a consortium of private sector cocoa companies, NGOs and government agencies that will bring the needed support and expertise to enable sustainable cocoa farming, landscape governance and planning, livelihood diversification, forest protection and monitoring, and monitoring of safeguards, amongst other activities.

The Need for LS

HIA training in Juabeso Bia – photo credit: NCRC

The Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI) – the initiative executing this private sector commitment – represents a major step forward towards addressing deforestation and improving sustainability of the sector. However, while most companies have released individual action plans, there is currently no methodology in place to assess whether public and private investments, strategies, and field activities in these cocoa-producing landscapes are effectively addressing these challenges. This is where LandScale comes in.

Because issues like deforestation and degradation cannot be overcome or assessed at the individual farm scale, there is a need for action and monitoring at a larger, landscape scale. Traditional methods to assess sustainability improvements at the farm scale are insufficient for companies and government to show they are meeting their goals – specifically those around deforestation and social change as part of the CFI. LandScale fills this gap by assessing
and evaluating how much progress is being made at the landscape level

The government is also developing a new Ghana Climate-Smart Cocoa (CSC) Standard to ensure the use of the most climate-appropriate farming practices and to market a more sustainably produced cocoa bean. LandScale complements the CSC standard, so that together they can be used to show progress towards truly sustainable cocoa production in Ghana.

LS Pilot Landscapes

LandScale is being piloted as a way for the government and the companies working in this landscape to evaluate how much progress is being made at the landscape level, and provide a way for companies to demonstrate they are meeting their ambitious CFI commitments. Partner Nature Conservation Resource Centre (NCRC) selected two pilots in Ghana to test the applicability of LandScale in two different HIA landscapes: Juabeso-Bia and Kakum.

Location of Juabeso Bia HIA

Over the past twenty years, Juabeso Bia has been one of the highest cocoa-producing areas of the country. It has one of the highest densities of forest reserves and national parks, but faces high deforestation pressure from farmers producing cocoa and other agriculture expanding into the parks and illegal logging. The HIA’s goals are to preserve approximately 160,000 hectares of protected forest reserves and deliver socioeconomic benefits to an estimated 150,000 people by 2020, through catalytic investment from the private sector. NCRC will be applying LandScale as a way to demonstrate and communicate what progress towards these goals are being achieved.

A number of cocoa companies are providing this private sector investment – including Touton, Olam, Ecom, Mondelez, and Cargill – are investing in multiple activities to improve landscape sustainability. These include increasing yields via climate-smart cocoa (CSC) practices, improved landscape governance, reduced deforestation and degradation, and reforestation through shade-grown cocoa systems. The government of Ghana is partnering with these initiatives to support better coordination and monitoring; it is also carrying out synergistic work on cocoa and forests, such as a project under the World Bank-funded Forest Investment Program (FIP).

Location of Kakum HIA

Kakum is named after Kakum Conservation Area, one of the most important protected areas in the country due to the numerous species of mammals and birds that call it home. There is moderate cocoa production in Kakum despite substantial areas of land dedicated to cocoa farming, due to extremely low yields. As a result, deforestation pressures are less extreme in the Kakum Conservation Area itself, although pressur remains hign in the surrounding conservation areas. The HIA is creating goals to transform the Kakum cocoa-forest landscape to a more sustainable cocoa agroforestry system and source of beans, in which forests are protected, cocoa farmers and their families experience improved well-being and empowerment, and socio-economic and ecological resilience to climate change across the landscape is strengthened. Again, NCRC is testing LandScale as a framework to assess progress towards these goals, and communicate that progress to government and markets.

Hershey and Ecom are actively investing in improving landscape sustainability through (a) creating governance systems that allow for more local management while ensuring landscape-scale monitoring and planning and (b) implementing CSC practices, such as promoting shade trees, planting the most climate- and disease-resilient cocoa varieties, and managing for soil fertility. In addition, Olam, Nyonkopa, and Touton are also contributing by working with farmers to improve access to resources and credit needed to improve practices.

The Lindt Chocolate Foundation is supporting efforts to develop a comprehensive monitoring and assessment system, which would produce data that can feed into the LandScale assessment.

Please email us at Click here to learn more about LandScale.

LandScale Secretariat



Support for the landscape pilot in Ghana is funded with resources generously provided by the International Climate Initiative.

Our Work

Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard

The SD VISta Program The Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) is a flexible…

Learn More >

Plastic Waste Reduction Standard

Plastic Waste Reduction Program The Plastic Waste Reduction Program (Plastic Program) aims to enable robust…

Learn More >
Photo: Paul Vincent

Verified Carbon Standard

The VCS Program is the world’s leading voluntary program for the certification of GHG emission reduction projects

Learn More >