Management of biodiversity research stepped up across Africa

The West Africa Science Service Centre and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), one of Africa’s Centres of Excellence, has been training personnel to manage research into biodiversity management across the continent.

This field of study has become important due to losses in terrestrial and marine life, with Africa being considered the hot spot for global biodiversity, WASCAL’s director of capacity building, Daouda Kone, told University World News. Life on land and life below water fall under sustainable development goals (SDGs) 14 and 15, respectively.

Kone said forests in countries such as Congo and Côte d’Ivoire constitute a huge reserve of the biosphere, thus playing a key role in carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide). Forestation is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change in line with SDG 13, as well as SDG 15.

From 25 April to 8 May 2022, phase 2 of the United Nations’ Biodiversity Conference COP15 is due to take place in Kunming, China. Yet, African countries have not been vocal in the countdown to the conference. However, Kone said WASCAL will be part of COP15.

During meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, from 14 to 29 March 2022, governments had a final chance to negotiate on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework before COP15 in Kunming, the European Commission said in a statement on 14 March 2022. The global agreement is to be adopted at COP15 later in the year.

However, Dr Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forests, Sea and the Environment charged with climate change and land-use planning, tweeted on 3 April: “Three gruelling weeks of negotiations in Geneva saw modest progress towards a successful COP15 this month, but there is a long, long way to go and a large distance between developing and developed nations to bridge.”

According to Kone, “African universities are training the next generation of scientists to take up biological diversity management for African countries as well as doing research through accredited masters and PhD curricula.”

WASCAL is also organising short courses in addition to the post-graduate qualifications.

He said biodiversity management in Africa is treated differently, depending on the country. “Some are doing well but, in some countries, the situation is critical. Generally, there are some losses to carbon management due to human activity – mainly agriculture and mining. But the biggest threat is climate change.”