Live fencing in the Ashanti region of Ghana

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Many forms of live fences are established in the rural and urban areas within the Ashanti Region. The fences are established basically for the protection of the agricultural crops and/or properties but the aesthetic value of live fences is appreciated. The live fences serve as boundary markers of land units, control of erosion especially in hilly areas. They are extensively used for food (fruits, leaves and barks), medicines (bark, leaves and root), fodder and firewood. Very little attention has been paid to live fencing. Hence, literature on it is scarce in Ghana. To establish and manage live fences properly, it is necessary to study them. It is therefore the object of this study to investigate the traditional practices of live fencing in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The study was undertaken using questionnaires and personal interviews in 100 randomly selected towns and villages in the Ashanti Region. A stratified random sampling method was used and Kumasi was chosen as the reference point. The Ashanti Region was divided into 20 units along first class, second class, third class and feeder roads. Ten routes were then randomly sampled. One district was selected after reconnaissance trips along the selected routes. Data was collected in and around the communities in each of the selected districts. Field experiments on methods of propagation of eight of the identified species were also conducted at the I.R.N.R., U.S.T. Research Farm. The study revealed that nine (42.86%) live fence species were indigenous and twelve (57.14%) were exotic. More exotic species than indigenous species were found in the urban areas whilst the reverse was true for the rural areas. Sixteen species (76.19%) were identified as having multipurpose uses. Seeds (42.86%), stake cutting (47.62%) and stem cutting (28.57%) were the major propagates for the live fence species. Pollarding (57.14%) and lopping (42.86%) management practices were performed on the tree species whilst trimming (33.33%) and pruning (19.05%) were done on the shrub species up to a maximum of three times in a year. Live fences for security were cut high (> 1.0m). The shrub species used for live fencing were generally cut low (0.7m) depending on their morphology, age of species or the management strategies imposed to provide the goods and services required. Live fences for aesthetic value or facade were properly managed and cut at more or less uniform heights (1.5m). The unmanaged live fences grow taller (ranging between 1.8 and 8.4m). The tree species could be managed to form a hedge. The planting distances vary and generally tree species used for live fencing were spaced wider (1.9m) than the shrub species (0.7in). The live fence species identified ‘ere susceptible to fire (42.86%), insects (33.33%) and plant parasites (14.29%). However, 42.86% of the species were found to be resistant to these agents of destruction. In the field experimentations, seed germination was excellent for Pithecelobium dulce (100%) and fair for Cassia siamea (50%) but poor for Ricinus communis (20*). Stem cuttings sprouting were excellent for Gliricidia sepium (100%) and Pithecelobium dulce (85.7%) and poor for Euphorbia cortinifolia (28.6%). Ricinus communis stem cuttings did not sprout. The Breynia nivosa was the only species with some sprouting success in root cuttings (25%). The Jatropha curcas stem cuttings was superior to Spondias mombin (averaging 82.2% and 1.7% respectively). The basal sections of J. curcas showed rapid regeneration (89.3%) but again, the basal section of S. mombin (2.6%) was poor in regeneration. The terminal sections of J. curcas (81.3%) and S. mombin (1.3%) were respectively lower than the J. curcas and the S. mombin. Regeneration of S. mombin stem cuttings was generally poor in the short period of the experiment. Trees, woody shrubs and succulent shrubs could be used to establish effective live fences and managed well to achieve the desired goals. Information should be gathered on live fences particularly legume species to cover the different ecological zones in Ghana. Further studies should be done on sprouting of trees, woody shrubs and succulent shrubs to be able to make firm recommendation. It is however encouraging in that stem cuttings and seeds gave reasonable results. Comparative costs and benefits analysis on live fences and other forms of fencing should be evaluated.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Agroforestry, 1992