EPA to pilot biodiversity, ecosystems protection project|(Dec 23)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will from next year pilot a project that makes it compulsory for companies, particularly those in the private sector, to mitigate the negative impacts of their business activities on the environment.
Known as the Biodiversity Offset and Business Scheme (BOBS), the project is aimed at the promotion, protection, conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.

As part of the scheme, businesses would have the opportunity to shift their mitigation activities to other areas other than the site their operation impacted or even engage another business to do the offsetting for them.
Already, the EPA says it has signed up three unnamed companies to roll out the project next year.

Structures
Plans are in place to establish structures, including registry of offset service providers. EPA will undertake quality assurance, certify the offsets and put them in the appropriate category.

The assessment will be based on information provided in the Biodiversity Offset Management Plan and the monitoring regimes stated in permits issued by the EPA.

The plans will be assessed in terms of their likely ability to deliver and sustain the proposed biodiversity units.
In a speech read on his behalf, at a validation meeting on the scheme in Accra yesterday, the acting Executive Director of the agency, Mr John A. Pwamang, said the scheme had become necessary because of environmentally degrading activities including “unprecedented pollution of almost every water body with dangerous chemical and silt,” invasion of alien species and exploitation of land and forest resources.

“We think this is the right time for the agency to look more critically at the methods by which biodiversity is assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedures to ensure full mitigation of the impacts of undertakings.”

He said the scheme provided the opportunity to ensure that residual impacts of undertakings on biodiversity were adequately compensated for, adding that “it will enable businesses to internalise the full cost of their impact and ensure sustainability of their businesses”.

With the private sector expected to play a leading role, Mr Pwamang said when fully deployed, the project would empower biodiversity-based enterprises with the appropriate regulatory environment to attract more investment into nature conservation and generate livelihoods for the populace along the value chain.

Advocacy for biodiversity
The Chairman of the Advocacy for Biodiversity Offsetting in Ghana, Dr Yaw Osei-Owusu, stated that “the scheme ensures responsible management, sustainable utilisation and equitable benefit sharing of biodiversity resources. It encourages businesses to take responsibility for their impacts and generate additional private sector investments in biodiversity conservation”.
He observed that the traditional methods of restoring biodiversity had not been successful and warned that “if we continue with business as usual, within the next century, we are not going to have forests at all”.
He said apart from keeping the environment sustained, communities also stood to benefit.

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