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.