Ogooué River Basin Sustainable Management Program

Ogooué River Basin Sustainable Management Program

This project is a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership: ecosystem health assessment, remediation of impacts, capacity building and long-term sustainable development.

The Gabon-Oregon Center is teaming up with The Nature Conservancy-Africa, ANPN (Agence National des Parcs Nationaux) and the Ministère des Eaux et Forêts in Gabon to examine the health of the Ogooué River Basin, understood as a complex and holistic ecosystem.  The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has designated the Ogooué as one of its eight worldwide Great Rivers.  The mission of TNC’s Great Rivers Partnership is to bring together diverse partners and best science to expand options for achieving the sustainable management and development of the world's Great Rivers and their basins.  The program seeks shared solutions to common land- and water-use dilemmas, recognizing the inescapable linkages that connect our economy, well-being and ecosystem sustainability.  In Gabon, the ecological status of the Ogooué river basin will be examined, to develop baseline indicators of riparian health, to prepare for impacts of increased tourism, road construction, logging and mining in the river basin, and to suggest means of alleviation and remediation of impacts.

This project builds on the work of The Nature Conservancy-Africa and faculty in the departments of Geography, Environmental Science and Management, Fisheries and Forestry at Portland State University, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.  Faculty will collaborate on various aspects of the project in order to address the diverse environmental concerns present in this varied and large river basin.  Faculty will also bring extensive experience and expertise in forestry, community-based conservation, policy development and natural resource management, as well as freshwater resources and hydrology.  The Nature Conservancy will utilize its expertise in site analysis and impact assessment for dam locations on the Ogooué, among other projects, and produce reports to determine and present work that needs to be done based on available data.

The major objectives of this project are addressing sedimentation from extractive industries, improving freshwater protected area management for long-term benefits, fulfilling sustainable development goals, and building scientific and management capacity for integrated river basin management (IRBM) in Gabon.  This project advances the Gabon-Oregon Center’s mission to build human capital in the country to ensure the program's long-term sustainability and address the country's development goals.  We will work to meet Gabon's energy and industrial goals while maintaining a healthy freshwater ecosystem in the Ogooué River Basin for long-term ecological benefits for the local population and natural resource preservation.  The program will engage local communities to involve them in the decision-making process and to develop valuable natural resource management skills.  The program also seeks to include the diverse and numerous stakeholders in the planning, implementation and management stages of development, such as various branches of the Gabonese government, private corporations operating in the basin, and Gabonese universities, researchers and students as part of a holistic, capacity-building process. 

In Fall 2014, a team of fisheries scientists and experts from the U.S., including Oregon State University's Fisheries Curator and ichthyologist Dr. Brian Sidlauskas, traveled to Gabon and organized the first freshwater fish species survey in the country in 150 years in partnership with Gabonese scientists and The Nature Conservancy staff. The team collected fish in the Lastoursville/Moyen Ogooué region and carefully analyzed each specimen. The team learned a great deal about freshwater fish in Gabon, including the discovery of two new fish species.

In April and May 2015, the Gabon-Oregon Center and Oregon State University hosted the Gabonese fish scientist, Dr. Jean-Hervé Mve Beh, in Eugene and Corvallis. Dr. Mve Beh worked closely with his research partner Dr. Brian Sidlauskas in a Corvallis lab, identifying additional fish collected last fall. More results from this groundbreaking study will be available in the future. We expect a publication to be produced as a result of this novel work.

For more details, and to access The Nature Conservancy's exciting Photo Story that illustrates the research trip in Gabon, visit www.nature.org.