Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1577–1589 | Cite as

Agro-industrial plantations in Central Africa, risks and opportunities

  • Laurène FeintrenieEmail author
Original Paper


Large-scale land-based investments in Central Africa are not new, and the first decade of the twenty-first century saw renewed interest in agriculture by foreign investors. The new rush for farm land has involved new multi-national holdings in the region and sometimes in the sector. This paper analyses the recent wave of investments in farm land, and discusses their specificity, the ways the host countries deal with investors, and the impacts of these large-scale projects on livelihoods and on forest cover. It focuses on the four countries that host most of the natural forests in the Congo Basin: Cameroon, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. The analysis was based on a historical review of the scientific literature and of media reports. Results are based on the assessment of large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural expansion and on field surveys conducted in 2012 and 2013, during which key stakeholders were interviewed in the four countries.


Agro-industries Deforestation Land grabbing Cameroon Gabon Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo 



The first version of the paper was presented at the “Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty”, the World Bank—Washington DC, April 8–11, 2013. This paper is based on a study supported by French cooperation through the Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle (SCAC) in Libreville. Part of the field work was conducted with the scientific and logistic support of Méthode NKOUA, CRDPI (Centre de Recherche sur la Durabilité et la productivité des Plantations Industrielles) and Albert ELENDE in Republic of Congo, Lydia ATSIMA from IRET (Institut de Recherches en Ecologie Tropicale) in Gabon, Didier KALALA from WWF in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iyabano ABOUBAKAR, Nicephore ASSOUA ELAT, Edouard BAULT and Maguina ZELAKWA in Cameroon whom I thank for their support. This paper has been much improved thanks to the constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers, to whom I am grateful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIRAD, Research Unit Forest Goods and Ecosystems Services (B&SEF)MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.CIRADYaoundéCameroon

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