Impacts of land cover changes on the provisioning ecosystem services at Goaso-Ghana

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Natural ecosystems provide services that contribute to human well-being such as food, medicines, fuel wood, fresh water, and climate regulation. In spite of this, most natural ecosystems have been converted or modified into agricultural areas and other human land use to maximize single-purpose use. Various researches reported that, the human use of ecosystem services, particularly of provisioning services, has accelerated in the last 50 years and that nearly 60% of the ecosystems globally are being degraded and used unsustainably. Also, it‟s projected the demand for ecosystem services is expected to grow in the future. As the human use of most ecosystem services continues to increase, there is a critical need for research involving the quantification of trade-offs among various ecosystem services. Provisioning services include harvestable goods such as bush meat, fruits & food, water, fuel wood & medicinal products from the natural environment. Provisioning ecosystem services in particular is mostly acknowledged within developing countries like those in Africa, where many rural people are poor and are reliant on these services for their livelihoods. Though these services are crucial for human wellbeing, their spatial locations in terms of occurrences are rarely considered in plan, policy development and in decision making. The objective of this research is to assess the effects of land cover conversion in the supply of ecosystem services to the local beneficiaries due to declining of provisioning ecosystem services which impacts the local people‟s livelihood. Ecosystem services studies currently lack information regarding stakeholder‟s socio values. This information is vastly relevant to human well-being, which is the motivation of ecosystem services assessments. Presented research takes a non-economic quantitative ecosystem services approach from an iii analysis of stakeholder‟s perceptions on ecosystem services, livelihood and the impact of land cover changes. The results are presented from an analysis of stakeholder‟s perceptions of ecosystem services, well-being and drivers of change from the Goaso off-forest reserve, Ghana. The methodologies used includes GIS analysis for land cover mapping & change detection, semi structured interviews for collecting the values given to the services and the general information concerning their environment. While participatory mapping and valuation was for mapping ecosystem supply areas and the values given to them, participatory mapping activities and convened group discussions on ecosystem services was done for four villages. Participation of local people and other stakeholders in mapping and valuation of the ecosystem services is very essential in the identification of what are the ecosystem and their services and their relation to land cover/use from their perspective. The services valuation results showed that, water, fuel wood and bush meat were highly valued services.[ Though the pattern of the values is the same in the sense that the higher value were given for specific services and lower for specific one across all communities] . The valuation of Land covers as a place for services supply pointed out to annual cropland and fallow land high values as a place for collecting multiple services. The change detection focused on two types of changes; (1) changes in the land covers of ecosystem services supply areas whereby the results showed the changes that occurred in all the land covers, but with the decrease in annual cropland from 39% to 7%, fallow land from 8% to 2%and Forest & off reserve trees from 26% to 10%. (2) Changes in the supply of ecosystem services. All of these changes are within the period of 12 years .The outcomes showed scarcity and reduction in the availability of some services like bush meat, medicinal products, water and fuelwood, as a result of land cover changes.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Wildlife and Range Management, College of Renewable Natural Resources in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSC GEO INFORMATION SCIENCE