JDR Vol.9 No.4 pp. 452-467
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2014.p0452


Land Use and Landscape Structural Changes in the Ecoregions of Ghana

Effah Kwabena Antwi*1, John Boakye-Danquah*2,
Stephen Boahen Asabere*3, Gerald A. B. Yiran*4, Seyram Kofi Loh*4,
Kwabena Gyekye Awere*4, Felix K. Abagale*5,
Kwabena Owusu Asubonteng*6, Emmanuel Morgan Attua*7,
and Alex Barimah Owusu*7

*1Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S), the University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan

*2Department of Geography and Resource, University of Ghana, Ghana

*3Department of Geosceinces, Technische Universitaet Dresden, Germany

*4Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, Ghana

*5Faculty of Agriculture, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana

*6United Nations University – Institute for Natural Resources in Africa

*7Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana

February 18, 2014
July 23, 2014
August 1, 2014
landscape metrics, land change, landscape planning, urban sprawl, fragmentation

In recent years, land use (LU) and landscape structure in ecoregions around the world have been faced with enormous pressures, from rapid population growth to urban sprawl. A preliminary account of changes in land cover (LC) and landscape structure in the ecoregions of Ghana is missing from the academic and research literature. The study therefore provides a preliminary assessment of the changing LU and landscape structure in the ecoregions of Ghana, identifying the causes and assessing their impact on land-based resources, and on urban and agricultural development. LU/LC maps produced from 30 m resolution Landsat TM5 in 1990 and ETM+ in 2000 were classified into dominant land cover types (LCTs) and used to survey the changing landscape of Ghana. LC-changemap preparation was done with change detection extension “Veränderung” (v3) in an ArcGIS 10.1 environment. At the class level, Patch Analyst version 5.1 was used to calculate land use (LU) statistics and to provide landscape metrics for LU maps extracted from the satellite imagery. The results showed that commonly observed LCCs in the ecoregions of Ghana include conversion of natural forest land to various forms of cultivated lands, settlements, and open land, particularly in closed and open forest and savannah woodland. The dominant LU types in the ecoregions of Ghana are arable lands, which increased by 6168.98 km2. Forest and plantation LCTs decreased in area and were replaced by agricultural land, forest garden, and open land. Afforestation rarely occurred except in the rainforests. The mean patch size (MPS), ameasure of fragmentation, was generally reduced consistently from 1990 to 2000 in all the ecoregions. Similar results that indicated increased fragmentation were an increased number of patches (NumP) and the Shannon diversity index (SDI). Habitat shape complexity inferred from mean shape index (MSI) decreased in all ecoregions except for rainforest and wet evergreen. The SDI and Shannon evenness index (SEI) showed that habitat diversity was highest in the coastal savannah and the deciduous forest ecoregions. The main drivers of changes in the LUs and landscape structure are demand for land and land-based natural resources to support competing livelihoods and developmental activities in the different ecoregions.

Cite this article as:
E. Antwi, J. Boakye-Danquah, <. Asabere, G. Yiran, S. Loh, <. Awere, F. Abagale, <. Asubonteng, E. Attua, and <. Owusu, “Land Use and Landscape Structural Changes in the Ecoregions of Ghana,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.9, No.4, pp. 452-467, 2014.
Data files:
  1. [1] Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Global forest resources assessment 2010,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2010.
  2. [2] J. Boafo, “The Impact of Deforestation on Forest Livelihoods in Ghana,” Africa Portal online Library, 2013,
    accessed at: [accessed December, 2013]
  3. [3] A. Dinar, R. Hassan, R. Mendelsohn, and J. Benhin, “Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa: Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies,” London, EarthScan, 2008.
  4. [4] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fertilizer use by crop in Ghana, “Land and Plant Nutrition Management Service Land and Water Development Division,” 2005,
    accessed at [accessed March, 2008]
  5. [5] G. Hilson, “Contextual Review of the Ghanaian Small-Scale Mining Industry,” A Report Commissioned by Mining, Mineral and Sustainable Development (MMSD), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSD), 2001.
  6. [6] A. K. Braimoh and P. L. G. Vlek, “Land-Cover Change Trajectories in Northern Ghana,” Environmental Management, Vol.36, No.3, pp. 356-373, DOI: 10.1007/s00267-004-0283-7, 2005.
  7. [7] J. K. Teye, “Deforestation in Ghana,” Human Landscape Ecology, Vol.9, No.21, 2005.
  8. [8] F. D. Vescovi, S. Duadze, and G. Menz, “Use of remote sensing for land use and natural resources investigations in the Volta Basin,” 2002.
  9. [9] S. K. Hong, “Factors affecting landscape changes in central Korea: cultural disturbance on the forested landscape systems,” Landscape Ecology Applied in Land Evaluation, Development and Conservation, pp. 131-147, 2001.
  10. [10] J. J. Wu, “Landscape Ecology,” in “Ecological Systems,” Springer, New York, pp. 179-200, 2013.
  11. [11] A. Botequilha Leitão and J. Ahern, “Applying landscape ecological concepts and metrics in sustainable landscape planning,” Landscape and Urban Planning, Vol.59, No.2, pp. 65-93, 2002.
  12. [12] J. Vogt Bahati, J. Unruh, G. Green, A. Banana, W. Gombya-Ssembajjwe, and S. N. Sweeney, “Integrating Remote Sensing Data and Rapid Appraisals for Land-Cover Change Analysis in Uganda,” Land Degradation & Development, Vol.17, pp. 31-43. 2006.
  13. [13] G. A. B. Yiran, J. M. Kusimi, and S. K. Kufogbe, “A synthesis of remote sensing and local knowledge approaches in land degradation assessment in the Bawku East District, Ghana,” International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, Vol.14, No.1, pp. 204-213, 2012.
  14. [14] E. M. Attua and E. Laing, “Land-cover mapping of the Densu Basin: Interpretations from multi-spectral imagery,” Bulletin of Ghana Geography Association, Vol.33, pp. 1-8, 2001.
  15. [15] F. A. Armah, J. O. Odoi, G. T. Yengoh, S. Obiri, D. O. Yawson, and E. K. Afrifa, “Food security and climate change in drought-sensitive savanna zones of Ghana,” Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change, Vol.16, No.3, pp. 291-306. 2011.
  16. [16] Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), “National soil fertility management action plan,” Directorate of Crop Services, Accra, Ghana, 1998.
  17. [17] S. A. Ravan, P. S. Roy, and C. M. Sharma, “Accuracy Evaluation of Digital Classification of Landsat TM Data. An Approach to Include Phenological Stages of Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest,” International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Science, Vol.22, pp. 33-43. 1998.
  18. [18] E. K. Antwi, R. Krawczynski, and G. Wiegleb, “Detecting the Effect of Disturbance on Habitat Diversity and Land Cover Change in a Post-Mining Area Using GIS,” Landscape and Urban Planning, Vol.87, pp. 22-32. DOI 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2008.03.009, 2008.
  19. [19] M. C. Neel, K. McGarigal, and S. A. Cushman, “Behavior of classlevel landscape metrics across gradients of class aggregation and area,” Landscape Ecology, Vol.19, No.4, pp. 435-455, 2004.
  20. [20] R. T. Forman, “Some general principles of landscape and regional ecology,” Landscape Ecology, Vol.10, No.3, pp. 133-142, 1995.
  21. [21] K. McGarigal and B. J. Marks, “Spatial pattern analysis program for quantifying landscape structure,” Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-351, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 1995.
  22. [22] J. M. Kusimi, “Assessing Land Use and Land Cover change in the Wassa West District of Ghana using Remote sensing,” GeoJournal, Vol.71, No.4, pp. 249-259. 2008.
  23. [23] M. L. Parry, C. Rosenzweig, A. Iglesias, M. Livermore, and G. Fischer, “Effects of Climate Change on global food production under SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios,” Global Environmental Change, Vol.14, No.1, pp. 53-67, 2004.
  24. [24] M. Blay, L. Appiah, Damnyag, F. K. Dwomoh, O. Luukkanen, and A. Pappinen, “Involving local farmers in rehabilitation of degraded tropical forests: some lessons from Ghana,” Environment, Development and Sustainability, Vol.10, No.4, pp. 503-518, 2008.
  25. [25] A. S. Mather and C. L Needle, “The relationships of population and forest trends,” The Geographical Journal, Vol.166, No.1, pp. 2-13. 2000.
  26. [26] The Forestry Commission of Ghana, “Forest and Wild life Policy,” 1994,
    accessed at [accessed August, 2013]
  27. [27] K. O. Kufuor, “Forest Management in Ghana: Towards a Sustainable Approach,” Journal of African Law, Vol.44, No.1, pp. 52-64, 2000.
  28. [28] Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, “Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy,” Accra, 2012.
  29. [29] Ministry of Lands and Forestry, “Ghana Forest andWildlife Policy,” Accra, 1994.
  30. [30] J. S. Nabila, “Urbanization in Ghana, Legon,” University of Ghana, 1988.
  31. [31] B. Rimal, “Application of Remote Sensing and GIS, Land use/Land cover Change in Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Nepal,” Journal of Theoretical & Applied Information Technology, Vol.23, No.2, 2011.
  32. [32] A. D. M. Thuo, “Community and social responses to land use transformations in the Nairobi rural-urban fringe, Kenya,” Field Actions Science Reports, Journal of Field Actions, Special Issue 1, 2010.
  33. [33] R. Grant, “Globalizing City: The Urban and Economic Transformation of Accra, Ghana,” New York: Syracuse University Press, 2009.
  34. [34] Ghana Statistical Service, “2010 population and housing census. Summary Report of Final Results,” Accra, Ghana, May, 2012.
  35. [35] IFPRI, “Agriculture for Development in Ghana: New Opportunities and Challenges,” IFPRI Discussion Paper 00784, August 2008.
  36. [36] I. A. N. Spellerberg, “Ecological effects of roads and traffic: a literature review,” Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol.7, No.5, pp. 317-333, 1998.
  37. [37] S. C. Trombulak and C. A. Frissell, “Review of ecological effects of roads on terrestrial and aquatic communities,” Conservation biology, Vol.14, No.1, pp. 18-30, 2000.
  38. [38] R. B. Hammer, S. I. Stewart, R. L. Winkler, V. C. Radeloff, and P. R. Voss, “Characterizing dynamic spatial and temporal residential density patterns from 1940-1990 across the North Central United States,” Landscape and Urban Planning, Vol.69, No.2, pp. 183-199, 2004.
  39. [39] M. J. Paul and J. L. Meyer, “STREAMS IN THE URBAN LANDSCAPE,” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Vol.32, No.1, pp. 333-365, 2001.
  40. [40] L. Hens and E. K. Boon, “Institutional, legal, and economic instruments in Ghana’s environmental policy,” Environmental management, Vol.24, No.3, pp. 337-351. 1999.
  41. [41] G. Hilson and F. Nyame, “Gold mining in Ghana’s forest reserves: a report on the current debate,” Area, Vol.38, No.2, pp. 175-185. 2006.
  42. [42] G. Hilson, “An overview of land use conflicts in mining communities,” Land use policy, Vol.19, No.1, pp. 65-73. 2002.
  43. [43] Y. Serfor-Armah, B. J. B. Nyarko, S. B. Dampare, and D. Adomako, “Levels of arsenic and antimony in water and sediment from Prestea, a gold mining town in Ghana and its environs,” Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Vol.175, Nos.1-4, pp. 181-192, 2006.
  44. [44] G. Hilson, C. J. Hilson, and S. Pardie, “Improving awareness of mercury pollution in small-scale gold mining communities: challenges and ways forward in rural Ghana,” Environmental Research, Vol.103, No.2, pp. 275-287. 2007.
  45. [45] K. A. Braimoh and L. G. P. Vlek, “Land-Cover Dynamics in an Urban Area of Ghana,” Earth Interactions, Vol.8, No.1, 2003.
  46. [46] D. A. Saunders, R. J. Hobbs, and C. R. Margules, “Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review,” Conservation biology, Vol.5, No.1, pp. 18-32, 1991.
  47. [47] P. A. Zuidema, J. A. Sayer, and W. Dijkman, “Forest fragmentation and biodiversity: the case for intermediate-sized conservation areas,” Environmental conservation, Vol.23, No.4, pp. 290-297, 1996.
  48. [48] D. Moser, H. G. Zechmeister, C. Plutzar, N. Sauberer, T. Wrbka, and G. Grabherr, “Landscape patch shape complexity as an effective measure for plant species richness in rural landscapes,” Landscape Ecology, Vol.17, No.7, pp. 657-669, 2002.
  49. [49] W. E. Dramstad, W. J. Fjellstad, and G. L. A. Fry, “Landscape indices – useful tools or misleading numbers?” in: J.W. Dover, R. G. H. Bunce (Eds.), “Key concepts in landscape ecology,” Proc. of the 1998 European Congress of IALE, IALE (UK), September 3, 1998, pp. 63-68. 1998.
  50. [50] R. M. Hulshoff, “Landscape indices describing a Dutch landscape,” Landscape Ecology, Vol.10, No.2, pp. 101-111. 1995.
  51. [51] P. M. Vitousek, H. A. Mooney, J. Lubchenco, and J. M. Melillo, “Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems,” Science, Vol.277, No.5325, pp. 494-499, 1997.
  52. [52] T. A. Pickett and P. S. White, “Patch dynamics: a synthesis,” 1985.
  53. [53] K. Johst and A. Huth, “Testing the intermediate disturbance hypothesis: when will there be two peaks of diversity?,” Diversity and Distributions, Vol.11, No.1, pp. 111-120, 2005.
  54. [54] B. McCusker and E. R Carr, “The co-production of livelihoods and land use change: Case studies from South Africa and Ghana,” Geoforum, Vol.37, pp. 790-804, 2006.
  55. [55] R. Grant, “Globalizing City: The Urban and Economic Transformation of Accra, Ghana,” New York: Syracuse University Press, 2009.
  56. [56] V. Bellassen and V. Gitz, “Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in Cameroon – assessing costs and benefits,” Ecological Economics, Vol.68, No.1, pp. 336-344, 2008.
  57. [57] M. Garbarino, E. Sibona, and E. Lingua, “Decline of traditional landscape in a protected area of the southwestern Alps: the fate of enclosed pasture patches in the land mosaic shift,” Journal of Mountain Science, Vol.11, No.2, 2014.
  58. [58] S. Abudulai, “Perceptions of land rights, rural-urban land use dynamics and policy development,” in “Managing Land Tenure and Resource Access in West Africa,” Proceedings of a Regional Workshop in Gorée, Senegal, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, November, 1996.
  59. [59] K. Kasanga. “Land Resource Management for Agricultural Development in Ghana,” London, RICS Foundation, 2001.
  60. [60] J. A. Jaeger, R. Bertiller, C. Schwick, K. Müller, C. Steinmeier, K. C. Ewald, and J. Ghazoul, “Implementing landscape fragmentation as an indicator in the Swiss Monitoring System of Sustainable Development (MONET),” Journal of Environmental Management, Vol.88, No.4, pp. 737-751, 2008.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, IE9,10,11, Opera.

Last updated on Jan. 18, 2019