Talbotiella Gentii: The Plant Native To Only Ghana Missing
Scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, Ghana, have pointed out two critically endangered tree species that are extinct or on the brink. For the tree species botanically called Talbotiella Gentii, the scientists say it is endemic to only Ghana. In other words, there is no known discovery of the plant anywhere else apart from the West African nation of Ghana. The Ghanaian authorities have almost come to the conclusion that the tree is missing in Ghana’s forest estates, and they are frantically on a scavenging mission to find it.
Another tree species that is under significant stress in Ghana is Aubregrinia Taiensis. The Akan ethnic group of Ghana calls it ”Atadwekese.” You can only find this tree in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Out of twenty individual trees found between the regional neighbors, Ghana had the largest share of fifteen. The Ivory Coast had only five.
Records show that Aubregrinia Taiensis (Atadwekese), was first discovered in 1970 at Kade in the Eastern region of Ghana. In recent times, when plant conservationists of the CSIR Forestry Research Institute of Ghana in Kumasi, Ashanti region, set out to the provenances of the tree species, their mission amounted to a search for needles in the haystack. They only found the seeds of the plant after a painstaking effort.
Aubregrinia Taiensis (Atadwekese) was originally in two forest reserves, the Bia Tano, and the Wurobong Forest Reserves in the Bono and Eastern regions respectively.
The mutual interdependence of biodiversity comes into play in the search and rescue mission. It is reported that the vector that distributes the fruits of this rare plant for its natural propagation is the Elephant. The general rule is that if the population of elephants diminishes then the plant is doomed. This is true for other animals and their relationships with specific plants.
Ghana does not have jungle elephants at free range as it pertains to Namibia and Kenya. Ghana has them in a few zoos and the Mole National Park.
The roles of CSIR’s Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, FORIG, and its sister institute at Bunso, the Plant Genetic Resource Research Institute, PGRRI, as the back-stoppers for the protection and restoration of plant species, cannot be underestimated. The two institutes provide a backbone to plantations in the wild by carefully selecting from their midsts, the ones that are needed for storage. They keep the germplasms of plants in the form of seed storage, plant tissue culturing, and replantation in the field.
Either the Scientists of CSIR-Ghana and allies with the same objectives make sure they are in the field to pick tree parts for future propagation or the country loses precious items like native trees through reckless behavior such as unauthorized tree felling. They say, they also must have a say in the issuance of permits before the exercise of any activity which can potentially destroy the natural environment.
In Ghana, bush-burning for charcoal, illegal felling of trees for lumber, expansion in human settlements, agricultural farming, and redevelopment of the physical environment through construction are some of the known supplanters of forest estates.
Sadly, there is no let up in the worst of these forest degraders, illegal small-scale mining, popularly called ”galamsey”.
Scientists rue tree losses and much more their extinction, for they believe trees hold an advantage for mankind and other living things. For instance, they are aware of the high oil content in the Aubregrinia Taiensis seed.
Now, they do not have any trace of the plant called Talbotiella Gentii for further study into its properties and benefits. In the case of Aubregrinia Taiensis, out of the six hundred seeds they were able to gather, only twenty-five germinated, making this specie a potential goner and a teething challenge to plant wizards. James Oppong Amponsah of CSIR-FORIG working on this project says it requires resources to be able to cast the search net wider for the lost ones.