The island is surrounded by eight communities three in the Kenema District, Koya Chiefdom, namely: Mapuma , Ngiema , Shegbema and five in Pujehun District, Barri Chiefdom, namely, Kambama, Saihun, Niahun, Jenneh, Boma. All the eight host communities have direct access to the Island except Saihun.
It is managed by Tiwai Island Administrative Committee (TIAC), made up of the paramount chiefs of Barri and Koya, community elders, government, Universities & conservation organizations including the Environmental Foundation for Africa.
TIAC was established with the idea that the surrounding communities would protect the island from logging, mining, and poaching in exchange for community development and livelihood assistance. Tiwai Island is a leading ecotourism destination and research facility which attracts visitors and researchers from all over the world. The conservation of the island benefits local communities through training opportunities and employment from ecotourism.
Revenues earned are put back into the communities for local development. The majority of the local population are farmers, growing rice, the staple food, groundnut (peanuts), beans and cassava. These communities are surrounded by a variety of fruit trees including, banana, mango, kola nut, orange, papaya, breadfruit and grapefruit. The majority of people living in these communities are Mende. The predominant religion is Muslim, but there are small numbers of Christians as well.
Supporting communities to protect their own unique Island and some of the rarest wildlife in the world.
Upscaling and Promoting Biodiversity Conservation and Community Livelihoods in the Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem