Spatio-temporal analysis of transitions in land cover is critical to understanding many ecological challenges, especially in environmentally vulnerable regions. For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa, large-scale cropland expansion is expected due to the increasing demand for fuel, food, and fibre. Clearing land for cropland expansion is a driving factor in the degradation of natural ecosystems. We present a spatio-temporal analysis of land-cover change in Ghana’s Northern, Upper East, and Upper West provinces using Intensity Analysis on the periods from 1992 to 2003 and 2003 to 2015. The objectives of this study were to determine whether the intensity of land-use and land-cover (LULC) change is consistent between the two periods and to investigate the direction and extent of change for different LULC categories in northern Ghana. The methodology measures land-cover changes at the interval, category, and transition levels. The results suggest that the annual rate of land change was higher between 1992 and 2003 compared to that between 2003 and 2015. Furthermore, the category-level analysis reveals that the gains in the arable land and tree/forest-cover classes during both time intervals were higher than the uniform intensity. The transition-level analysis results indicate that most of the gains in arable land and tree/forest-cover came at the cost of semi-arid shrublands during both periods. There is also evidence of local increases in forest-cover, likely linked to afforestation policies established by the Ghanian government; however, overall, there has been a loss of natural habitat. The study provides data to improve our understanding of the magnitude and direction of land-cover change, essential for the development of policies designed to mitigate the impact of land-cover change on the livelihoods of local people and the environment at the national and sub-national levels.

Manzoor, Syed Amir, Geoffrey Hugh Griffiths, Elizabeth Robinson, Kikuko Shoyama, and Martin Lukac. 2022. “Linking Pattern to Process: Intensity Analysis of Land-Change Dynamics in Ghana as Correlated to Past Socioeconomic and Policy Contexts” Land 11, no. 7: 1070.

Keep in touch with the Grantham Research Institute at LSE
Sign up to our newsletters and get the latest analysis, research, commentary and details of upcoming events.