Impact of anthropogenic activities on changes in forest cover, diversity and structure in the Bobri and Oboyow Forest Reserves in Ghana

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Forests are essential for human survival and well-being. During the past millennium, humans have taken an increasingly large role in the modification of the global environment. Globally, land cover today is altered primarily by direct human use. The study therefore used GIS based technique, to determine the land cover change for the two forest reserves. Satellite images spanning 1990-2010 on a ten year interval were acquired using Landsat Enhance Transverse Mecator (ETM) and data analyzed using Erdas Imagine and ArcGIS software, after performing supervised classification to validate these images. The study showed that Closed Canopy areas for Bobri and Oboyow Forest Reserves had reduced from 3292.2 ha and 3345.9 ha in 1990 to 1588.6 ha and 1370.2 ha in 2010 respectively. Correspondingly, Open Canopy areas for Bobri and Oboyow increased from 1556.3 ha and 3333.4 ha in 1990 to 2741.3 ha and 3091.1 ha in 2010 respectively. The shrub layer increased considerable by 13 % over the period for Oboyow F/R, an indication of loss of forest cover. Field inventory conducted showed mean basal area for Bobri and Oboyow as 32.93a and 13.75b respectively with P < 0.001. Bobri was significantly higher than Oboyow. Using Shannon Wiener diversity index, closed canopy for Bobri was 2.124a, open canopy was 1.247b; Oboyow recorded closed canopy 1.634c and open canopy 1.073d with P < 0.001. Closed canopies for the two reserves were significantly higher. Overexploitation of timber, improper logging practices, constant revision of the harvesting schedule etc. accounted for the loss of forest cover. Results indicates that the Forestry Commission (FC) should stop the constant revision of the harvesting schedule and put in place mechanisms to induce political will from governments whilst mainstreaming community participation in forest management.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, July-2012