Ivory Coast battles to save cocoa-ravaged forests

Decades of intensive cocoa farming led to rapid economic development in the Ivory Coast, and turned the country into the world's top producer of the chocolate ingredient.

But clearing land for farming all but wiped out the Ivory Coast's forests.

An ambitious new forestry policy could reverse that.

It aims to take back control of government-managed parks and forest reserves.

Amourlaye Toure works for the campaign group Mighty Earth.

"We need to act, it is an emergency today. Because if we don't act quickly we risk losing the entirety of our forests. Already 90% of our primary forests in Ivory Coast have been lost between 1960, when we gained independence, until 2000, so in the space of half a century."

Armed personnel oversees the protection of land, checking up on loggers to make sure they're not working for illegal cocoa plantations.

But resources are limited.

Lieutenant Olivier Nogbo leads a team of five overseeing 130,000 hectares of land, with a fuel budget of around 340 U.S. dollars a month.

There is a cost to those who live on the farms, however.

This illegal settlement - nicknamed Bandit Town - was home to 10,000 people.

By March, the government had taken it down and reduced the area to rubble.

The forest strategy allows any illegal farmers to remain on their land - at least temporarily, but on the condition they plant trees that will re-establish the forest canopy.

They are not allowed to plant new cocoa trees.

Local residents here admitted they had refused the government's requirement to plant 100 tree seedlings per hectare on their plantations.

The Ivory Coast wants to expand forest cover to 20% of its national territory by 2030. Right now, it's at 11%.

The government estimates they will have to plant three billion trees over the coming years.