The impact of surface gold mining on land use/ land cover types in the Birim North District

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The method of surface mining has been the target of strong opposition in recent times in Ghana. LULC changes due to surface mining and their effects on the environment and local livelihoods, is on the ascendancy in Birim North District. The aim of this study was to map the LULC changes which have occurred in the Birim North District resulting from surface mining and to project the impact of surface gold mining on LULC types for the next ten years. Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) based techniques and the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) statistical methods were used in this study . Landsat satellite images of 2002, 2008 and 2015 were used to map LULC change types. Field interviews with farmers using designed questionnaire to understand the livelihood implications of surface gold mining-related LULC changes in the study area were conducted. The results showed that surface gold mining resulted in the loss of 18.5% of agricultural land and 8.4 % of forest cover in the 13 years period. Deforestation and land degradation were identified as the major environmental consequences of LULC change, owing to surface gold mining in the study area. Surface mining related LULC change affected local livelihoods especially the health and local economy of the study area. Analysis of the ten years LULC projection map of 2025 of the study area revealed a decrease of forest cover by 6.3% and agricultural land by 0.1%. This was attributed to population increase and built-up expansion due to the presence of mining activities in the study area. Government policies on mining should therefore be crafted with the intension to preventing the decrease in livelihood foundations of the rural areas in the district in mind
A thesis submitted to the Department of Geomatic Engineering College of Engineering in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science,