Mont Péko Journal: Ousting Farmers to Save Forest, Ivory Coast Sets Off a New Crisis

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Workers filling sacks with cocoa beans at an agricultural cooperative in Guiglo, Ivory Coast.

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Sia Kambou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MONT PÉKO NATIONAL PARK, Ivory Coast — Tramping through a thicket of brush alongside soldiers with Kalashnikovs, Kpolo Ouattara stopped at the sight of an interloper: a cocoa tree, gray with rot.

“We should let the forest reconquer the whole area,” Mr. Ouattara said as he picked at what was left of an illicit cocoa plantation deep within the 130 square miles of Mont Péko National Park. “Those who decide to re-enter the park,” he warned, “will be considered outlaws.”

Mr. Ouattara is a park ranger on the front lines of the Ivorian government’s renewed campaign to clear cocoa-farming squatters out of the country’s…

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