US – Hershey Company has announced that it will be undertaking a global initiative to end deforestation with a commitment to stop sourcing cocoa from areas affected with deforestation.

The company said that the move aims to protect forests and stop ongoing deforestation in cocoa-growing regions where the company sources cocoa.

In a bid to protect forests, Hershey’s initiative to protect forests was to be implemented by helping to stop the illegal cutting down of trees that have been used not only for cocoa farming, but also charcoal burning and timber particularly in national parks and reserves.

They will also embark on enhancing farming activities that will see emergence of new and robust forests in many affected areas.

The announcement will be followed by development and the launch of a forestry plan in 2018, outlining their activities for agroforestry programmes.

The plan will also outline tree-planting goals, supplier guidelines and monitoring, and timelines to achieve its forest protection and reforestation goals.

“Deforestation in cocoa regions must end and every stakeholder in the cocoa supply chain needs to work together to protect the forests for future generations.

We are committed to working with local governments and civil society to strike the right balance between producing cocoa for the world and conserving the precious natural ecosystem,” said Susanna Zhu, the Hershey Company chief procurement officer.

According to the Guardian, chocolate industry has significantly led to increased deforestation in the world.

Most of the industry’s big players such as Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands obtain cocoa beans from cocoa traders who grow cocoa on illegally protected areas reducing the rainforest cover.

Environmental group Mighty Earth has reported that the global demand for chocolate is growing fast and this is likely to cause great deforestation in the near future.

To ensure that it delivers on this initiative and meet its overall objective for safe forests, Hershey was working in collaboration with World Cocoa Foundation and its Cocoa & Forests Initiative.

Hershey was showcasing its potential to address the challenges in ensuring sustainable cocoa production by partnering with others in the industry.