WWF reaction to Stiegler's Gorge hydropower dam construction launch
Posted on 26 July 2019
Commenting on the construction launch of Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower dam, Zach Abraham, Director of Campaigns at WWF-International, said:
“The UNESCO World Heritage Committee made it clear earlier this month that the Selous’ World Heritage status is at risk should any damage result from the construction of Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower dam. Today’s development is largely symbolic, but it is a worrying indicator that Tanzania’s government plans to press ahead with the controversial project regardless.
“The Selous is a wilderness area of extraordinary importance to wildlife, while also providing livelihoods and numerous ecosystem services to local communities. It is essential it is protected for the benefit of future generations. WWF calls on Tanzania to invite UNESCO and the IUCN to carry out the necessary assessments of harm already caused to the site, and to consider less harmful energy alternatives.”
The Stiegler’s Gorge project is a planned hydropower dam across the Rufiji River, located within the Selous Game Reserve. The Selous, a designated World Heritage site since 1982, is home to globally important populations of elephants, hippos and African hunting dogs.
On 2 July 2019, a UNESCO World Heritage Committee decision highlighted that the Selous is at risk of losing its World Heritage site status if deforestation and other activities related to construction of the dam lead to irreversible damage to the site. The Committee called on Tanzania’s government to halt all damaging activities and invite a UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission to assess any damage caused by preparatory logging.
WWF notes that alternative energy pathways are available to Tanzania, and highlights the opportunities presented by renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal energy to diversify the country’s energy mix.
Aerial view on river landscape in Selous (photographed from helicopter)