Incorporating Biodiversity Data in Ghana’s Development Planning
Ghana undoubtedly is a country rich in Biodiversity. Every region of the country from the North to the south has biodiversity hotspots rich in diverse plant and animal species. Two notable areas that readily come to mind with regards to genetic, species and ecosystem diversity in Ghana are the Mole National Park in the Northern Region (Damongo) and the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region.
Biodiversity data is relevant to informing development decisions at the global, national and local levels, yet information critical to such decisions are not readily available. Prof. Entsua Mensah, Deputy Director General for the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Ghana, explains that, part of the problem is associated with the complex nature of biodiversity data especially in cases where data is scattered, out-dated and available in incompatible formats and resolutions.
Streamlining biodiversity data into national development plans has become very critical for Ghana as every facet of the nation’s development thrives on a healthy biodiversity which is needed for both human capital development as well as industrial and agricultural growth.
“As far as biodiversity is concerned, the decisions that are made in the corridors of power determine the extent to which there is sustainability in our biodiversity utilization and management” Dr. George O Essegbey-Dir., CSIR-STEPRI
Recent Activities to Address Biodiversity Data Challenge in Ghana
In May 2017, the University of Ghana held a workshop to identify biodiversity data needs in Ghana. Stakeholders at the workshop comprising academia, researchers, state institutions and civil society organizations identified among other initiatives; the establishment of a National Biodiversity Commission which will be responsible for the regulation and management of biodiversity data in Ghana. They also proposed the creation of a central hub for biodiversity information in Ghana. These initiatives were proposed to aid biodiversity data acquisition, storage, and use within the country.
In March 2018, a Biodiversity Information Management Forum (BIMF) was organised with the following objectives.
- Build on the survey results and findings from the first biodiversity data assessment workshop (hosted in May 2017 by the University of Ghana).
- Convene major national data-holding institutions to catalogue details of available datasets.
- Convene major governmental (end-user) agencies and other potential end-users to prioritise the datasets that should be mobilised for use in policy.
- Use the results of the workshop to develop a biodiversity data mobilisation roadmap for Ghana and to develop the national biodiversity data layer
The forum was jointly organized by the African Biodiversity Challenge (ABC) team from Ghana, and the Ghana Connect project team made up of following member organizations: Conservation Alliance (CA);
A Rocha Ghana; University of Ghana; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Ghana.
The ABC team is currently conducting a biodiversity mobilisation project that aims to digitise and publish datasets that are relevant for conservation policy in Ghana. Whereas the Ghana Connect team aims at mainstreaming biodiversity data into national decision-making. The two groups will increase the supply of biodiversity data and ensure such data is incorporated into policy decisions.
Participants present at the forum were drawn from national and local government departments, universities, research institutions, museums, conservation bodies and NGOs & civil society Organizations.