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close this bookEnvironment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa (UNU, 1997, 141 pages)
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentOpening address
Open this folder and view contentsThe context
Open this folder and view contentsPilot study of production pressure and environmental change in the forest-savanna zone of southern Ghana
Open this folder and view contentsRelated studies
Open this folder and view contentsConclusions
View the documentContributors


This book embodies the proceedings of a workshop on Environment, Biodiversity and Agricultural Change in West Africa, held at the University of Ghana, Legon, from 25 to 27 October 1994. The workshop was organized under the auspices of the United Nations University (UNU) Project of Collaborative Research on Population (now People), Land Management and Environmental Change (PLEC). PLEC addresses, within the context of small farming communities, the processes whereby indigenous resource management and land use systems adapt to environmental change, with a view to providing researched options for the better management of land resources, including species diversity, in tropical areas, the domain of the world's greatest but increasingly endangered biodiversity and agrodiversity.

With the collaboration of the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (INRA), the support of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and with the University of Ghana serving as the host, the workshop objectives were to:

  • disseminate and discuss the findings of the pilot phase on PLEC West Africa research;
  • identify possible strategies of extending the scope of PLEC research to other agroecological zones in West Africa; and
  • enhance cooperation between PLEC and UNU/INRA in the West African context.

It was attended by over 80 international participants, and coordinated by Professor E.A. Gyasi, the leader of PLEC, West Africa.

Various technical presentations were made and discussed, following the opening ceremony, which included:

  • an introductory statement by the chairman, Professor Emeritus E.A. Boateng:
  • an opening address read by the Hon. Dr. Farouk Braimah, a deputy minister of environment, science and technology, Ghana, on behalf of the substantive minister, the Hon. Dr. Christina Amoako-Nuama;
  • statements on PLEC by Dr. J.I. Uitto, UNU academic officer and PLEC administrative coordinator, and by Professor E.A. Gyasi;
  • a keynote address by Professor George Benneh, vice-chancellor, University of Ghana; and,
  • a statement on the UNU/INRA programme by Professor B.N. Okigbo, director, UNU/INRA.

Eleven of the technical presentations comprised papers based on the report of a PLEC pilot study on environmental change in Ghana's forest-savanna ecotone, carried out in 1993-94. They centred on the background, objectives, methodology and findings of the study. Five others were substantive papers on various other aspects of environmental change and sustainable farming in Ghana and tropical Africa as a whole. There was a slide presentation on landscape modification in the forest-savanna zone. Four other presentations dealt with a PLEC research extension proposal. The last presentation was the rapporteurs' report of the workshop proceedings.

A field trip on 26 October took 35 participants through the degraded, reportedly once thickly forested southern forest-savanna zone, with brief stopovers at Mampong and Mamfe in the Akuapem hills, and much longer ones at the PLEC pilot study sites, Sekesua and Yensiso, where, in the village of Gyamfiase, the visiting party was welcomed by the chief, Nana Oduro Darko II, and the people with a colourful durbar marked by traditional drumming and dancing, which signifies the Gyamfiase community's appreciation and acceptance of the PLEC research.

The workshop concluded with a closing statement by the Hon. Dr. Kwabena Adjei, minister of lands and forestry.

Special post-workshop meetings limited to core PLEC members and a few others were held under the chairmanship of Professor Brookfield on 28 and 29 October, for a more in-depth discussion of the workshop issues, including PLEC forward plans.

The main points ensuing from the post-workshop meetings, together with the key elements of the mainstream workshop proceedings, are published in this book with the hope that the book will stimulate debate on and enhance understanding and management of the dynamic biophysical environment and the farming therein, particularly in agrarian regions such as West Africa, whose worsening agroenvironmental problems and the attendant food insecurity are epitomized by Ghana.

This publication has been produced with the support of Obayashi Corporation.