Community Involvement

There are about 10,000 people who live along the periphery of the park, who now have a direct influence on management decisions concerning Odzala as a result of the Odzala-Kokoua Fondation, which has two local community representatives on its board.

Historically, communities had a negative perception about the park, so a great deal of emphasis has been placed on ensuring that their concerns are not only heard, but addressed, and that they benefit directly from the conservation of the park and its wildlife.


Well over 100 local people are employed by Odzala, with five percent of the commercial revenue generated by the park allocated towards community development.

Odzala's mobile clinic © Marcus Westberg
Communities now have access to healthcare through the mobile clinic.

Community Projects

The park ensures communities are involved in the decision-making processes of the management of the park to ensure their socio-economic needs are met. An important element of the park management is ensuring that communities are able to still make use of the park’s resources, albeit in a sustainable manner. This led to the zonation of Odzala into three eco-development zones in which agroforestry and consumptive utilisation are allowed and facilitated.

Diversifying Livelihoods

Alternative livelihood programmes are also being investigated for the periphery of the park, including the development of cocoa plantations. These projects are designed to stimulate local economic opportunity for local people and reduce the poaching pressure on the park.

It's hoped that the new cacao plantations will stimulate the local economy.
It's hoped that the new cacao plantations will stimulate the local economy. © African Parks

Case Study

Cocoa Plantation

The lives of four communities are being transformed by the planting of 40,000 cocoa saplings outside Odzala. The programme involves the rehabilitation of old cocoa fields and is expected to improve harvest yields, the quality of beans, and generate an alternative income to bushmeat poaching – a major conservation challenge that threatens the forests of the Congo basin. Once planted the trees are expected to begin bearing fruit in two to three years. Villagers are tending to the saplings, and have received formal in-field instruction in growing and harvesting cocoa from agricultural experts who were trained in Brazil.