Stories in Africa

Journey to the Center of Gabon

Scientists Will Help Inform the Country's Development and Conservation Decisions

When you have as much water flowing through your lands as Gabon does, it makes sense to make the most of it. Although rich in oil, this Central African rainforest-covered nation has big plans to harness the power in its rivers to boost its renewable electricity production: Dozens of new hydropower plants are planned in the coming years.

But will this major infrastructure development spell disaster for Gabon’s incredible biodiversity? In the rush to progress, would ecological damage be done that later could not be undone? Luckily, Gabon’s government recognizes the importance of protecting its natural resources and is supporting science that will help it make the best decisions environmentally as it advances economically.

A team of Gabonese and American scientists gathered by The Nature Conservancy spent nearly two months methodically sampling fish species in a series of rivers whose flow might soon be affected by new hydroelectric dams. The results of their findings will be shared with Gabonese authorities as they move forward on their hydropower expansion. It's critical science. But it's far from easy.