Satellite-based high-resolution maps of cocoa planted area for Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana

C\^ote d'Ivoire and Ghana, the world's largest producers of cocoa, account for two thirds of the global cocoa production. In both countries, cocoa is the primary perennial crop, providing income to almost two million farmers. Yet precise maps of cocoa planted area are missing, hindering accurate quantification of expansion in protected areas, production and yields, and limiting information available for improved sustainability governance. Here, we combine cocoa plantation data with publicly available satellite imagery in a deep learning framework and create high-resolution maps of cocoa plantations for both countries, validated in situ. Our results suggest that cocoa cultivation is an underlying driver of over 37% and 13% of forest loss in protected areas in C\^ote d'Ivoire and Ghana, respectively, and that official reports substantially underestimate the planted area, up to 40% in Ghana. These maps serve as a crucial building block to advance understanding of conservation and economic development in cocoa producing regions.

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