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close this bookEnvironment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa (UNU, 1997, 141 pages)
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close this folder14: Land use and cover change in the southern forest-savanna transition zone in Ghana: A sequence model
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentStudy area
View the documentConceptual basis
View the documentStudies
View the documentLand use and cover sequences
View the documentFood cropping on abandoned land
View the documentLand use and cover sub-sequences
View the documentGeneral indications and future trends
View the documentReferences


It has become urgent to understand land use and cover changes that have taken place in diverse environments and which have intensified over the past 100 years or so in many tropical countries, particularly those of Sub-Saharan Africa. These changes occur essentially at the spatial scale of the farm field and the locality. The cumulative effects in terms of biogeochemistry, abundance and composition of terrestrial species, heat and water fluxes, the atmosphere and human living are, however, regional and global. Hence the increasing global concerns about land use and cover changes.

The comprehensive understanding of these complex biophysical and human relations form the basis of a major project proposal to relate land use and cover changes to global environmental change (Turner et al. 1993).

Some of the key questions to be addressed concern how land use and cover have changed in the last 300 years and how these will change in the next century or so. In order to address these relevant questions it is suggested, among other things, that it is necessary to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of land use change, and how these changes influence land cover over time, using models. It is believed that this will enable the development of land use and cover change typologies and the demarcation of situations. An interdisciplinary investigation has been undertaken by the Ghana (West Africa) cluster of PLEC in the forest-savanna ecotone in Ghana to examine the conditions of environmental change. A sequence of land use and cover changes has been observed.

These observations form the basis of this chapter, which seeks to abstract and rationalise the essential human and physical factors and processes of the land use and land cover changes in the study area in a descriptive model.