Government urged to collect comprehensive primary data on ecosystems in Ghana

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Professor Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah, a renowned botanist and Chairman of Ghana’s National Biodiversity Committee (NBC), calls on the government to collect comprehensive primary data on Ghana’s ecosystems, plant and animal species.

This, he explained, was key to shaping initiatives, planning and informing policy directions across all sectors of the economy, including energy, tourism, agriculture and health.

He said the lack of nature data undermines conservation and sustainable use efforts.

Prof Oteng-Yeboah, speaking at Ghana’s Biodiversity Information Management Workshop in Accra, said the country’s capacity to compile its biodiversity data could serve as a basis for developing a green economy and attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

The three-day workshop, under the African Biodiversity Challenge (ABC), aimed to complete training on Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) using the Red List of Ecosystems, assist nationally with invasive species using the biodiversity assessment to highlight key areas and contribute to the draft National Biodiversity Policy (PNB).

The ABC project is coordinated by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) with funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation.

The project is implemented in Ghana in collaboration with Conservation Alliance International, A Rocha Ghana, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Plant Genetics Resources Research Institute with mentorship support from the Ghana Biodiversity Information Facility at the University of Ghana and technical support. from the Biodiversity Information Management Forum (BIMF) of Ghana.

Professor Oteng-Yeboah, winner of the 2014 MIDORI Biodiversity Award, said Ghana’s ability to mobilize biodiversity data and integrate it into governance structures, especially local assemblies, would help address the the current degradation of green belts.

Dr Simmy Bezeng, KBA’s focal point for Southern and West Africa, told the Ghana News Agency that Ghana’s ability to obtain a comprehensive database of its biodiversity would help the country know the level degradation, unique species, endangered and critically endangered species.

He explained that this information would help the country decide which ecosystem needed to be restored and sought the necessary funding to undertake such an activity.

“A quick review of some sites using satellite images showed that some ecosystems were in poor condition and needed urgent restoration,” he said.

Mr. Mathew Child, Biodiversity Economics Scientist at SANBI, observed that little investment has been made in data collection and management to promote the country’s biodiversity values.

Ideally, he noted, the country needed a biodiversity information system that could take data from multiple agencies to aid in decision-making.

He said there was a need to invest in building the capacity of institutional scientists to acquire the skills to use the information for planning, management, decision-making and monitoring purposes.

“As part of the African Biodiversity Challenge (ABC) initiative, new datasets have been collected in the Atewa forest. Due to the unique species found in this forest, it has been proposed as one of the key biodiversity areas in the world,” he said.

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