Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biodiversity: We can only manage what we have

I have done some random searches and realised, unfortunately, that Ghana does not have a proper, up-to-date checklist of important biodiversity in the country! I won’t be very surprised if such is the situation in many countries. Well, this may be a reflection of the importance we place on biodiversity. As a result, when they are disappearing, we don’t seem to notice and even when we have noticed, we look on helpless.

The truth is people can only manage what they know they have. The lack of proper data on a country’s biodiversity hinders the country’s ability to estimate more accurately what species are being lost because there is no baseline to compare with. And the economic impact of such losses also becomes difficult to estimate because we have not placed any value on our biodiversity. Increasingly in the current dispensation, when the impact of something cannot be estimated in monetary terms, many are quick to overlook it.

Managing our environment sustainably should not be a burden on us. There is the need to re-orient ourselves: we should realise that a lot of revenue can be generated by proper management of our biodiversity. We should not be quick to always clear the forest, fill our valleys and block waterways as a must for development. A good natural environment should not be treated as an obstacle to development. The environment should not be seen as a tax on our development, a mortgage on our future or a constraint on employment. If we are to have a better way of knowing how much biodiversity we have and also to monitor the environmental, economic and social impact of biodiversity loss, then there is a great need for investments into data collection to ascertain what biodiversity is available to the country and how to manage them for the perpetual flow of benefits to all sectors of the country.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


On December 15, 1972, by resolution 2994, the United Nations General Assembly instituted World Environment Day (WED) which falls on June 5 every year. The day was established to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. Actually, June was chosen because it was the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972), which led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since then, June 5 has been observed every year as World Environment Day and Ghana has been part of the celebrations worldwide.

This year 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) chose as the theme “Many Species, One Planet, One Future” for the global celebrations of World Environment Day. This theme brings into attention the importance of biological diversity (biodiversity) in our lives as a people. Biodiversity is a term simply used to describe the existence of a wide variety of plant and animal species in a particular area or during a specific period of time. It is with great excitement that I tried to add my voice to the need to protect our biodiversity in my country, Ghana, because I believed it is a just course. Somehow, no media house published or gave any attention to any of the features I wrote on environment or biodiversity.

Meanwhile, sometimes I write on something away from the environment and it get’s published the following day! That’s how we place premium on over-pollicisation and polarisation of our country over the very things that means much to our survival. I have quietly tracked some of the pieces I wrote on the environment and they never got published! So I try to put in something entertaining and BINGO... two days later a media house published it. We better sit up and make important things important. If we don’t realise what is for our common good, we can’t get anything right.