Gabon’s hydro-electric power is currently provided by two dams constructed in 1970s, located in the the Mbe Watershed of the Mont Cristal National Park. Operated by SEEG, the dams provide electricity for 60% of the country’s population mostly in the capital city Libreville, making the Mbéwatershed the most economically important in Gabon. The watershed is also oneof the most biologically diverse sites in Central Africa, and provides other important ecosystem services not yet valued such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity.
There are two major issues
- Dam productivity is unable to meet the growing energy demands of the capital city of Libreville,
- Logging and mining pose a risk on water-flows and river sedimentation and therefore dry season hydropower generation and year-round storage, and also threaten biodiversity.
In collaboration with the Direction General for the Environment and UNDP, with funding from GEF, the Mbé Watershed Project aims to develop a sustainable funding mechanism that will secure the long-term protection of the forest ecosystems. The Ecosystem Services will be assessed to identify, map and value the Mbe watershed ecosystem services, focusing on forest cover for conserving water availability and quality which could negatively affect future dam productivity as well as aquatic biodiversity. The approaches used will serve to identify and value ecosystem services in a manner that can be useful for future dam construction and operations planning, and for long-term sustainable design of other major infrastructure projects.