Our Mission

Nsombou Abalghe-Dzal Association (NADA) #

Our Mission #

Sustainable and equitable governance and management of ancestral lands and biocultural diversity, established and maintained by Gabonese Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Our Vision #

Community-driven, national-scale actions with global impacts that improve human well-being by conserving the traditional ecological knowledge and ecosystems on which we all depend.

Our Motivation #

Ancestral lands across the tropics are home to many heritage sites and natural resources such as bushmeat, fish and non-timber forest products that are key to the food, financial, and cultural security of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. But global changes in markets, climate, and extractive industries increasingly harm the land and animals, and in turn the well-being of communities.

And the people who most rely on and know best bushmeat and all resources – rural hunters and their communities – are routinely excluded from genuine engagement in research, policy and wildlife management.

Faced with these realities, the time for action is urgent.

An outsider-driven agenda will never be socially sustainable, nor will it enable decolonial ways for western actors to engage appropriately in conservation. Innovative and inclusive interventions are needed for community self-determination, and community self-determination is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable governance and management of ancestral lands and resources.

When this work is led from within, it represents the possibility of truly just and transformative conservation of all biocultural diversity.

Our Origin #

NADA’s origins come from the Community Wildlife Project Gabon launched by the Poulsen Lab at Duke University in 2015, when a team of paraecologists – local community members employed as researchers and community organizers – were trained to conduct wildlife inventories in the forests of their villages (see publications for the results of their work). Their teacher – then and still – was Alex Ebang Mbélé, a Gabonese researcher, conservation leader, environmental educator and community facilitator with 3 masters. At the end of 2018, Alex went to Duke to plan the second phase of the project, and returned to Gabon with a new collaborator: Graden Froese, PhD student at Duke and Canadian social-ecological researcher who has been based in Gabon since 2016 having previously worked in Southeast Asia.

These two project managers were increasingly inspired by the leadership of sustainable natural resource management by paraecologists and their communities. At the same time, monthly meetings with paraecologists drew out connections between the many environmental problems in our region and the limits of projects coming from elsewhere to address them. There was a need for the local and permanent presence of a new form of Gabonese civil society centering community self-determination, and inter-community mobilization.

The next step in NADA’s birth was the idea of finding a new name and logo for the project, which symbolized our identity. Together, all members created a name that links the Fang and Kota peoples with whom we live and work. Voilà Nsombou (hunting and fishing in the Kota language) Abalghe-Dzal (management in the village in Fang). For the logo, each paraecologist drew a proposal, which all voted on and then refined together. Framed by the map of Gabon, it shows a paraecologist collecting data on the sustainable use of the forest by their community.

As the end of the second phase of the project neared, the paraecologists wanted to stay and grow together beyond outside initiatives. Alex and Graden therefore proposed the creation of a Gabonese NGO. In December 2019, a General Assembly was held during which we created our mission, vision, legal structure, and elected our bureau. NADA was born.

From these beginnings, NADA has grown beyond an isolated focus on bushmeat hunting into a larger movement, recognizing the interconnectedness of all community natural resource use with the rights-based conservation of all biocultural diversity.

Our Values #

Community | Progress | Sustainability | Equity #

With deep gratitude for all partners, collaborators, funders, contributors, and supporters of NADA past and present, and with acknowledgement of the land, animals, and local people who inspire, create and lead the vision and mission of NADA, every day.

© 2023 Nsombou Abalghe-Dzal Association (NADA), including photographs. Website by Madeleine Barois.