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Forest Reserves:

Map of Southern Ghana and Field Study Sites (red dots). Click to Enlarge image.

Most high canopy forest in Ghana not set aside in reserves has been eliminated (estimates range from ~80-90% of old-growth forest), mostly due to a National Policy implemented in the 1920’s that promoted progressive resource use.  Now, only about 1% of high canopy forest remains outside Ghana’s 216 demarcated forest reserves.  These 216 reserves account for ~17,000 square kilometers, about of which receive special environmental protection.  The rest are actively managed as a timber resource.  Even Ghana’s explicitly protected forest reserves, however, have not been immune to significant external pressures in the form of illegal logging, out-of-control bush fires, and pressures from mining interests.  In fact, nearly no actual forest cover remains in forest reserves located in the dry semi-deciduous forest zone.

Sacred Groves:

In Ghana, traditional sacred forest groves account for nearly all the forest cover that exists outside designated reserves.  These indigenous conservation areas were set aside by local communities and protected via religious sanctions and taboos.  Many of these sacred forest groves were burial grounds for village royals, but some gained protection because of their mythical significance.  Most currently exist as forest islands embedded in a landscape matrix of manmade savanna and agro-pastoral lands.

Increasing population pressure for farmlands, widespread residential development, the influx of western religious influences, and migrations and cultural mixing has lead to erosion of the socio-cultural respect that has protected these sacred forests in the past.  Many sacred groves have already been completely destroyed.  Without concerted effort and legislative action on the part of the government, most of these relict forests are unlikely to persist.




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2007 by James W. Fetzner Jr.  |  Best when viewed with Internet Explorer v7.0+  |  Last Updated: 19-Apr-2007