Situated in the Department of Plateaux in Central Congo, Ollombo District is located in the Abala logging concession (UFA Abala), which covers an area of 208,270 hectares and run by the Société Forestière et Industrielle d'Abala (SOFIA). Rich in fauna and flora, the forest in this locality contains numerous species of tree (for example sapele and wenge), important animal species such as the red antelope among other large mammals and numerous non-timber forest products widely used by forest communities in the area.
Ollombo District comprises of approximately 4,600 inhabitants spread across numerous villages including the communities of Ibangui and Assengué (both Mbochi ethnic group), Inga (Ntwa group), and Epounou (Mbochi and Teké groups) that have been involved in participatory mapping activities thus far. While these communities cultivate manioc as their main subsistence crop, they all depend heavily on the forest for their survival. Typical activities practiced in the forest include hunting using traps or sometimes shotguns, and gathering of forest products such as caterpillars, Gnetum, Marantaceae leaves, Gnetum africanum as well as numerous plants used for medicinal purposes.
Following discussions with communities involved in the project in this region, it has become apparent that the main challenges they face are logging and the lack of access to any of its associated benefits - notably in Ibangui, where logging is already taking place. Communities here have indicated that they have not been informed about the limits of the logging concession, as trees have been felled very close to their houses. In addition to this, intensive logging activities are leading to the demise of various fauna on which they depend for their subsistence.
During various meetings to validate community maps, the communities of Epounou, Inga and Assengué expressed their wish for the maps to be used to support them in their discussions with the logging company as the operations reach their villages. Thanks to the mapping work and training on national legislation, they have been able to understand what the limits of the logging concession are and to better understand and negotiate the terms of the social contract with the logging company.