The National Biosafety Authority (NBA), in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI), under the CONNECT project has developed Biodiversity Information Products (BIPs) to help inform national policy decisions regarding environmental conservation and sustainability management of biological resources in Ghana.
BIPs are basically data on all or some aspects of the variability of living organisms (biodiversity), which are essential to inform proper decision making and further development of policies.
The BIPs developed comprises 272 ecosystem maps of terrestrial, wetland, river and riparian ecosystems in the country fully the identified, developed and documented.
The BIPs development process also led to the mapping of the current state of the ecological conditions using landcover and datasets like forest loss as well as biodiversity areas under protection; Ghana’s Protected Areas and Other Effective Area-base Conservation Measures (OECMs) namely forest reserves, national parks, resources reserve, strict nature reserve and wild life sanctuaries.
At a stakeholder’s workshop to validate the salience, credibility and legitimacy of the BIPs, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie stated that the accurate data on biodiversity resource in the country was long overdue.
He explained that the massive mismanagement of the environment in the country was partly due to the ineffective, uncoordinated and ill regulated mining, lumbering, deforestation, pollution of rivers and river systems, destruction of wetlands and unsustainable harvests of biological resources including fishes and other marine products.
“These activities are leading to massive losses of our biodiversity which is critical to our economy and well-being. Addressing these concerns require compelling data and other sound information to underpin decisions that we make and also serve as a robust means of monitoring the success of our decisions,” he stated.
According to Dr. Afriyie, the BIPs developed would be mainstreamed into Climate Change Action Programs being implemented by the ministry to counter the exposed risks, guide decision making in national affairs in order to protect the biological resources and revitalize them. He added that it would also enable Ghana to respond effectively to her obligations under other multilateral environmental agreements to which she is a party to.
The Chairman of the Ghana National Biodiversity Steering Committee, Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah expressed satisfaction with the fact that Ghana has been able to develop its own BIPs to address issues affecting the ecological system which will be the basis for acquiring equity in the sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Prof. Oteng-Yeboah was of the view that the failure to safeguard our biodiversity resources stemmed from the fact that earlier information for the management of our biodiversity “were developed at the global level to be implemented at the local level without local content contribution.”
He was therefore hopeful that the development of the BIPs locally indicated much progress as a country.
The Connect Project Manager, Ernest Lamptey on his part was hopeful that government will show keen interest in the BIPs developed as well as identify partnerships for long term arrangements in ensuring the sustainability of use of the products.
He explained that the Connect project which was initiated in Ghana in 2018 sought to address the challenge of providing biodiversity information to decision makers in order to inform national socio-economic development.
Mr. Lamptey also expressed gratitude to the UN World Conservation and Monitoring Centre (UN-WCMC) for coordinating the project which is also being implemented in Uganda and Mozambique.