Once the Region of Belier was exhausted of its land resources for the production of the main cash crops including coffee and cocoa, there was a large emigration of its people to other Ivorian agricultural frontiers. Straddling the forest and the savannah, the Belier Region has the advantage of green pastures. It offers the possibility of developing all forms of agricultural production, especially food crops, and animal and aquaculture resources. Its soil is also rich in minerals. As a hub region in central Ivory Coast, Belier has a large number of immigrants from ECOWAS countries and other African countries.
In both the forest and savannah areas, the ecosystems are severely degraded. The dominant economic activities of the Region are agriculture and livestock farming. Rural activities, the exploitation of the forest, coal mining, and bushfires are the greatest sources of pressure on the forest. The forest heritage is seriously degraded: the area occupied by the forest is 825.5 km² compared to 1850 km², 20 years ago.
To reverse the trend of regional forest degradation, the Regional Council has already recognized 4 communal forests of 5 hectares each and has planned the creation of 4 protected departmental forests of 10 hectares each.
The forest area of the Belier Region has decreased by 5.58% annually for the period from 1986 to 2000 and 2.97% for the period from 2000 to 2015. This trend has reversed as the area has been nearly completely deforested (825.5 km2, less than 2% of the total area)
According to the analysis of drivers of deforestation carried out at the national level (FAO and SEP-REDD +, 2016), the main driver of deforestation in Belier is agricultural expansion (68%), for cocoa farming, rice cultivation and rubber cultivation. The next driver is logging at 26%. The shares of mining and infrastructure expansion are minimal because they do not exceed 3% for each.
In addition, logging, firewood and bush fires are very important drivers of forest degradation. Bush fires result in the development of poor soils thus reducing the arable surfaces.
Under the effect of these drivers, the regional forest area has seriously deteriorated: the area occupied by the forest is 825.5 km² compared to 1850 km², 20 years ago.
These drivers are exacerbated by certain political and institutional factors, including political crises and the Government's former political will to develop agriculture at all costs, by demographic factors (migration and population growth), and by economic factors, including the economic attractiveness of the region in relation to its level of development.
The region bases its hopes on the development of more efficient and diversified agriculture which must conform to the country's commitments to sustainable practices regarding abandonment, deforestation, and the regeneration of the forests. REDD+, Zero Deforestation Agriculture, and Climate Smart Agriculture are the flagship initiatives that will need to be well coordinated with private sector initiatives and international donors to make economic and human development, and the conservation and regeneration of ecosystems compatible.