Valuating ecosystem services in the Sebou River Basin, Morocco


The Sebou Basin

Wolfs Company, on behalf of WWF-Morocco and in partnership with Wetlands International, studied the value and distribution of ecosystem services in the Sebou Basin in Morocco.

The Sebou Basin is an important region for the Kingdom of Morocco, with many agricultural and industrial activities, and home to a significant proportion of the population, both urban and rural. There are apparent threats to the natural capital stocks and flows of the basin, which may have adverse effects on economic and social activities. WWF-Morroco, in collaboration with project partners, is investigating the design and implementation of a water fund to address some of these challenges. The key aim of a water fund is to enhance financial and governance mechanisms around the common goal of regional water security. It has been identified that the basin is under certain pressures from human activities that are degrading ecosystem stocks and flows. The water fund could contribute to the scientific knowledge base and help develop a shared vision of water security. Also, it could offer an attractive vehicle for pooling resources to invest cost-effectively in source watersheds.

WWF-Morocco and its partners are interested in understanding the specific values of individual ecosystem services in the region, where possible, to inform management plans and policy decisions in relation to the water fund. There are numerous potential interventions, which may affect the local provision and use of ecosystem services. In order to mitigate negative impacts of overexploitation and optimize the allocation of water resources, it is of high value to have a good understanding of the supply of water-related ecosystem services and their value to the Moroccan society. Wolfs Company was commissioned to assess the value of water-related ecosystem services in the Sebou Basin, in order to support a scenario analysis of potential interventions.

The importance of the Sebou river and its tributaries

During the project, we calculated that the total economic value of the water-related ecosystem services in the Sebou  area approaches 30 billion Moroccan dirhams on an annual basis. The majority of this economic value arises from the agricultural sector, which is located primarily in the mid- and downstream areas of the basin. At the same time water resources in these regions are under significant pressure, and if current trends continue water supply might not be able to keep up with water demand in the basin. This could have severe consequences for the local economy and community. Issues such as pollution and erosion could further exacerbate these consequences and might have a negative effect on the availability of clean drinking water for the more than 6 million inhabitants of the basin. It is thus of vital importance that adequate interventions occur that ensure future water availability in the basin. Our study offers a basis for assessing the effects of potential intervention on ecosystem service provisioning in the Sebou basin, and could help guide investment decisions of the Sebou Water Fund.