05.10.2004 General News

Work out cross-boarder biodiversity policies

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Accra, Oct. 5, GNA - Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of NEPAD and Regional Cooperation, on Tuesday said common cross-boarder policies and actions on biodiversity were needed to address issues affecting the ecosystem in Africa.

He said cross-boarder collaboration on the sustainable use and management of the Continent's resources would provide greater economic and conservational benefits instead of individual countries battling it on their own.

Dr Apraku said this when he launched a project dubbed: "Strengthening Capacity for Biodiversity Conservation in West Africa," in Accra.

Fifteen participants made of three each from Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire are attending. The launch would be followed by a three-week training workshop for the participants to upgrade their knowledge in the technique for biodiversity survey and identification, data collection, analysis, management and reporting.

They are expected to use the knowledge acquired from the workshop to train 35 personnel each from their respective countries and also work in collaboration with their governments, non-governmental organisations and stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of biodiversity policies.

Dr Apraku said for African countries to meet their commitments in conducting inventories, assessments and restoration of the ecosystem, they required scientific and technical capacities and this should be done in conformity with the existing agreements among countries. "A cross-boarder approach to sustainable use and conservation of natural resources within the NEPAD environment initiative should be seen as a complement and extension to existing national initiatives."

He said NEPAD recognised the range of issues necessary to nurture the region's environment and the sustainable use of natural resources and that a systematic combination of initiatives was necessary to develop a comprehensive environmental programme.

Dr Apraku said expertise necessary to translate provisions of international conventions on the environment into concrete national activities; policies and laws were in short supply in many African countries.

He said the project demonstrated one of the mechanisms for the effective implementation of the NEPAD Environmental Action Plan and pledged the Ministry's commitment to ensuring its success. Mr Robin Gwynn, Acting British High Commissioner, said statistics showed that the forest sector in Ghana had shrunk from 8.3 million hectares of tropical forest at the beginning of the 20th century to 1.7 million hectares.

"Such a statistic makes shocking reading, especially when we consider that forest lost means habitat loss."

He said local communities that depended on the ecosystem for food, medicines, construction materials and other livelihood were also suffering from the negative impacts associated with their decline. The project received 200,000 pounds from the United Kingdom Government under its Darwin Initiative Project. 05 Oct. 04

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