Conservation and management of biodiversity data is crucial for Sub-Saharan Africa countries. As signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Botswana and South Africa have undertaken to abide by what has been stipulated by the CBD and to endeavor to provide legislative, administrative and policy measures towards achieving biodiversity data management. This article reviews policy and legislation instruments in order to identify their weaknesses and strengths and come up with recommendations for effective biodiversity data management. The methodology employed was a qualitative content analysis of relevant legislation in Botswana and South Africa. Results reveal two contrasting situations. South Africa has made significant progress in developing policies, enacting biodiversity-related legislation that emphasizes their commitment towards the collection and use of biological diversity data for the sustainable progress of the country. However, these pieces of legislation need to review and consolidate the laws relating to biodiversity informatics and to develop a biodiversity policy together with an implementation plan. These are important to inform the overall national development agenda. In Botswana, the issues are more related to absence of legislation addressing biodiversity data management. Biodiversity informatics is not mentioned in any policy or legal document. There is therefore a need to revisit the policy and legislative instruments because there have been huge changes in the technologies for remote and field biodiversity data collection, data storage, big data analysis, data visualization, informatics infrastructure development, capacity building, outreach and open access initiatives.
Bibliographical noteThis article draws on a research carried out as part of a project that aims to review policies that promote biodiversity informatics in Sub-Saharan Africa. This project was being funded by JRS Biodiversity Foundation and is being carried out by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda). The authors would
like to thank Dr Don S. Doering, the Executive Director of JRS Biodiversity Foundation, and his team for their invaluable support. The authors would also like to thank Professor Roger Sapsford for his valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper.
- South Africa