Community empowerment for the conservation of Critically Endangered primates and their habitat

Whitley award
Published: 13 November 2015
Last edited: 17 July 2019
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The Tanoé Forest in Ivory Coast harbors an exceptional wealth of biodiversity. It also is the only place where 4 of the rarest West African primate species are thought to still co-exist. Recently, the forest has been threatened by conversion into an oil palm plantation. Inza Koné started a campaign to save the forest, ranging from engagement with the local community to political campaigning, resulting in the development of a community-based conservation program.


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Ecosystem services
Outreach & communications
Protected area governance
Science and research
Species management
Traditional knowledge
Other theme
Sustainable resource management
Land and Forest degradation
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Ivory Coast | Tanoé-Ehy Forest
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Environmental challenges

  • Poaching / habitat destruction / Water pollution / Overharvesting of biological resources / Ecological isolation

Economic challenges

  • Poverty / Food insecurity / Lack of alternative livelihoods

Social challenges

  • Lack of capacity / Conflicting interests


Local communities / Wildlife authorities / Conservationnists

How do the building blocks interact?

Community empowerment consists in enabling more people to play an active role in the decisions that affect their communities. An empowered community is one which is: (i) confident, (ii) inclusive, (iii) organized, (iv) co-operative, and (v) influential. The five blocks of the above described solution aim at stimulating long-term social engagement of informed and skilled local communities. Indeed, authentic community engagement happens when people in communities create structures and processes that are empowering for themselves and others around a shared vision and in compliance with national legislations and procedures. In the above-described case, the shared vision is the long-term conservation of the Tanoé forest and its wild inhabitants combined with the well-being of local communities.


Decline of proposals to drain and convert 8,000 hectares of the Tanoé Forest into an oil palm plantation - Development of a community-based system for Tanoé Forest’s conservation and management, resulting in empowerment of local communities, protection of ancestral heritage and biodiversity - Outstanding achievements have resulted in a growing acknowledgement of the process as a promising model for wildlife conservation in West Africa, e.g. granting of 2009 Future for Nature Award and 2012 Whitley Award to Inza Koné for his work for Tanoé Forest.


Inza Koné

The Tanoé-Ehy community-based conservation project is considered an inspiring example of community empowerment for conservation. Indeed, as the project leader, I received several national and international awards and I am regularly invited to share my experience with other project leaders in Africa. Of note is that I was invited to give several talk at the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney despite the fact that the Tanoé-Ehy forest has not yet been officially designated as a protected area. The success of the project lies in continuous iterations in which research feeds actions and vice-versa.  

Contributed by

Inza Kone Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS)

Other contributors

Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS)