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Ngbala is the capital of the District of the same name, in the north west of Congo, in the Sangha region, close to the border with Cameroon. It is situated at the confluence of the Koundou and Dja Rivers. Ngbala is located in the TalaTala logging concession, which covers an area of 621,120 hectares, and is attributed to the Industrial and Forestry Company of Congo (SIFCO). The forest in this concession is rich in flora (a number of tree species including sapele and Wenge, Bossé clair, Kossipo, Iroko, Dibetou, Douka and Afrormosia), fauna (elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and buffalo) and non-timber forest products (Gnetum africanum, wild fruits).
Mbomo is a district situated in the West Cuvette region, 30km from the border with Gabon, and immediately next to the Odzala National Park. According to the last population census, this district contains 22 villages with an estimated population of 4,830.
The Odzala Kokoua National Park was established by Decree No. 221 of May 2001, and covers an area of 1,354,600 hectares. Before its extension, the Park formed part of the Network of Biosphere Reserves from 1977 onwards, in the context of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The population here lives primarily from fishing, hunting and agriculture, with local indigenous peoples particularly dependent on the forest and its resources. Communities here are confronted with problems of access to fauna resources (conflictual relationships with ‘eco-guards'), problems with wild animals (devastation of their crops by these animals) and with their exclusion from the use or management of forests in the region.
Following community consultations, the project set its objective to support local and indigenous communities to demonstrate, using their participatory maps, their dependence on, and attachment to the forest and its resources. The information will be used to facilitate communities' dialogue with other actors such as logging companies, conservation organisations and the State. In this region, the project has worked with the following villages : Zouoba, Ebana, Mbanza and Bossouaka.
The project has provided communities with an opportunity to discuss challenges linked to the transfer of management responsibility of the Odzala National Park to the privately-run African Parks Network. In particular, this is related to the consultation and involvement of comunities by the new management of the Park. This process has served to strengthen community rights, through mapping for the promotion of their rights to access, use and control their forests.