Provisioning Ecosystem Services in Rural Savanna Landscapes of Northern Ghana: An Assessment of Supply, Utilization, and Drivers of Change
As a fundamental element of human lives, ecosys- tems and the services they provide across all socio- ecological regions are now under threat from human and natural activities. An assessment of the differ- ent categories of ecosystem services at various levels has become necessary for sustainable use and conser- vation. This study seeks to identify and characterize provisioning ecosystem services affecting rural house- holds in the Tolon and Wa West Districts of northern Ghana. It examines the key dynamics of these ser- vices and discusses the major factors influencing their supply and utilization. The study employs rapid ru- ral appraisal methods, including key informant inter- views, household questionnaires surveys, focus group discussions, and participatory observations for collect- ing primary data. Findings indicate an extensive use of all provisioning services examined: bushmeat, crop and animal production, fish catches, fodder and for- age, fuelwood, building materials, fresh water, and wild plants by households at all study sites. Averagely, 80% of households across the study sites collect and utilize these variety of services to support livelihood strategies. Our study also identified major challenges for sustainable supply and use of these ecosystem ser- vices, including the growing scarcity and decline in these services attributed to closely connected drivers such as cyclical drought, climate variation, land con- version, overharvesting, and a decline in traditional ecological knowledge. This study thus demonstrates the need for an integrated assessment that examines, at the local level, the interactions of various ecosystem services and human well-being to provide a scientific basis for formulation of effective coping and adapta- tion strategies in the midst of these challenges.
Yaw Agyeman Boafo, Osamu Saito, and Kazuhiko Takeuchi
Journal of Disaster Research