Forest CoverTotal forest area: 5,517,000 ha % of land area: 24.2%
Primary forest cover: 353,000 ha % of land area: 1.5% % total forest area: 6.4%
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005Annual change in forest cover: -115,400 ha Annual deforestation rate: -2.0% Change in defor. rate since '90s: 4.2% Total forest loss since 1990: -1,931,000 ha Total forest loss since 1990:-25.9%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests Annual loss of primary forests: n/a Annual deforestation rate: n/a Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a Primary forest loss since 1990:0.0%
Forest ClassificationPublic: 100% Private: 0% Other: 0% Use Production: 22.7% Protection: 6.4% Conservation: 0.8% Social services: 1.2% Multiple purpose: n/a None or unknown: 68.9
Forest Area BreakdownTotal area: 5,517,000 ha Primary: 353,000 ha Modified natural: 5,004,000 ha Semi-natural: n/a Production plantation: 160,000 ha Production plantation: n/a
PlantationsPlantations, 2005: 160,000 ha % of total forest cover: 2.9% Annual change rate (00-05): 20,000,000 ha
Carbon storageAbove-ground biomass: 726 M t Below-ground biomass: 267 M t
Area annually affected byFire: n/a Insects: n/a Diseases: n/a
Number of tree species in IUCN red listNumber of native tree species: 680 Critically endangered: 3 Endangered: 19 Vulnerable: 94
Ghana has one of the stronger economies of sub-Sahara Africa due to its array of natural resources. However, the
exploitation of these resources, coupled with the overall lack of environmental awareness, has devastated the country's forests. In less than 50 years, Ghana's primary rainforest has been reduced by 90 percent, while in the past 15 years (1990-2005), the country lost 1.9 million hectares or 26 percent of its forest cover.
Subsistence agriculture and cutting for fuelwood is common throughout Ghana and worsening due to a population growth rate approaching 3 percent. Logging and the pursuit of gold have also proved costly to the country's natural areas.
Forest loss in Ghana has exacerbated droughts and bushfires. In 1997 and 1998, widespread bushfires led the government to step up its anti-bushfire campaign, but the reform had little effect. Desert is encroaching on some deforested lands and soil erosion is
rampant. The economic development of Ghana has come at a great cost to its forests and environment.
On a more positive note, Ghana is host to Kakum National Park, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. The park's main draw is its canopy walkway and the forest's diverse array of wildlife, including monkeys, bongos, and forest elephants. Kakum is one of the last isolated fragments of rainforest that once extended across West Africa. In total, about 15 percent of Ghana's land area is under some form of protection, though the government still struggles with enforcement. Despite these difficulties, the government has taken an active role in trying to curb logging. After its 1995 log export ban, the government has actively pushed plantation development projects in degraded forest lands to reduce the pressure on natural forests. The efforts yielded a 44 percent decline in log exports between 1994 and 1997.
According to data from the World Resources Institute, Ghana has 3,725 species of plants, 729 birds, 222 mammals, 131 reptiles, and 90 fish.
Forest protection could earn tens of millions for Ghana -- 11/06/2006
Ghana could earn tens of millions of dollars for reducing its deforestation rate under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries and under discussion this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya.
Invasion of the oil palm: western Africa's native son returns, threatening great apes
(07/28/2014) As palm oil producers increasingly look to Africa’s tropical forests as suitable candidates for their next plantations, primate scientists are sounding the alarm about the destruction of ape habitat that can go hand in hand with oil palm expansion. A recent study sought to take those warnings a step further by quantifying the overlap in suitable oil palm land with current ape habitat.
Beautiful striped bat is the "find of a lifetime" (photos)
(04/10/2013) Scientists have uncovered a rare, brilliantly-striped bat in South Sudan that has yielded new secrets after close study. Working in Bangangai Game Reserve during July of last year, biologist DeeAnn Redeer and conservationist Adrian Garsdie with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) came across an unmissable bat, which has been dubbed by various media outlets as the "badger bat" and the "panda bat."
Ten African nations pledge to transform their economies to take nature into account
(06/11/2012) Last month ten African nations, led by Botswana, pledged to incorporate "natural capital" into their economies. Natural capital, which seeks to measure the economic worth of the services provided by ecosystems and biodiversity—for example pollination, clean water, and carbon—is a nascent, but growing, method to curtail environmental damage and ensure more sustainable development. Dubbed the Gaborone Declaration, the pledge was signed by Botswana, Liberia, Namibia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania following a two day summit.
High-tech hell: new documentary brings Africa's e-waste slum to life
(04/30/2012) Shirtless boys rapidly pull the computer apart, discarding bits and pieces, until they expose the wires, yank them out, and toss them into a fire. Acrid, toxic smoke blooms as the boys prod the wires and the fire strips the plastic around the wires, leaving the sought-after copper. Welcome, to Agbogbloshie, where your technology goes to die. A new film e-wasteland captures the horrors of the world's largest e-waste slum through surreal and staggering images. Shot over three weeks by one-man guerrilla filmmaker, David Fedele, e-wasteland is an entirely visual experience without dialogue or voiceover.
Six nations, including U.S., set up climate initiative to target short-term greenhouse gases
(02/20/2012) With global negotiations to tackle carbon emissions progressing interminably, nations are seeking roundabout ways to combat global climate change. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced in India last week a new six nation initiative to target non-carbon greenhouse gases, including soot (also known as "black carbon"), methane, and hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs). Reductions of these emissions would not only impact short-term climate change, but also improve health and agriculture worldwide according to a recent study in Science.
Saving Ghana's vanishing frogs
(11/02/2011) Frogs need all the help they can get. With the IUCN Red List estimating that 41 percent of amphibians are endangered, frogs are currently the world's most imperiled animal family. Scientists estimate that around 200 amphibian species have been lost to extinction in recent decades to habitat loss, pollution, and a devastating fungal disease. Yet as the frog emergency worsens, there have been positive movements in conservation. The most recent comes from the small West African country of Ghana. Partnering with the enthusiastic US-based organization, SAVE THE FROGS!, two Ghanaian herpetologists, Gilbert Baase Adum and Caleb Ofori, have started a sister branch in their country: SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana.
Children on the frontlines: the e-waste epidemic in Africa
(09/09/2011) In Agbogbloshie, a slum outside the capital city of Accra, Ghana, tons of electronic waste lies smoldering in toxic piles. Children make their way through this dangerous environment, desperate to strip even a few ounces of copper, aluminum, brass, and zinc from worn-out electronics originating from the United States and Europe. "The smell alone will drive all but the most desperate away, but many are so desperate they persevere despite the obvious dangers. It is a very tough thing to witness," explains Dr. Kwei Quartey, a Ghanaian author and physician, in a recent mongabay.com interview.
Controversial study finds intensive farming partnered with strict protected areas is best for biodiversity
(09/01/2011) Given that we have very likely entered an age of mass extinction—and human population continues to rise (not unrelated)—researchers are scrambling to determine the best methods to save the world's suffering species. In the midst of this debate, a new study in Science, which is bound to have detractors, has found that setting aside land for strict protection coupled with intensive farming is the best way to both preserve species and feed a growing human world. However, other researchers say the study is missing the point, both on global hunger and biodiversity.
How do we save Africa's forests?
(06/19/2011) Africa's forests are fast diminishing to the detriment of climate, biodiversity, and millions of people of dependent on forest resources for their well-being. But is the full conservation of Africa's forests necessary to mitigate global climate change and ensure environmental stability in Africa? A new report by The Forest Philanthropy Action Network (FPAN), a non-profit that provides research-based advice on funding forest conservation, argues that only the full conservation of African forests will successfully protect carbon stocks in Africa.
Illegal logging declining worldwide, but still 'major problem'
(07/15/2010) A new report by the Chatham House finds that illegal logging in tropical forest nation is primarily on the decline, providing evidence that new laws and international efforts on the issue are having a positive impact. According to the report, the total global production of illegal timber has fallen by 22 percent since 2002. Yet the report also finds that nations—both producers and consumers—have a long way to go before illegal logging is an issue of the past.
Ghana becomes first country to sign sustainable timber pact with the E.U.
(09/04/2008) The European Union has signed a sustainable forestry deal with Ghana that would stop imports of illegally-harvested timber from the West African nation, according to a statement released by the European Forest Institute. The agreement comes under the European Commission's 2003 Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which seeks to address illicit timber imports. The regulation requires chain-of-custody documentation for timber to be imported into the E.U.
Pictures of new species discovered in West Africa
(12/06/2007) Scientists have discovered significant populations of new, rare and threatened species in one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical forest in West Africa, reports conservation International (CI). The findings underscore the need to conserve the area's high biological richness.
Looming desertification could spawn millions of environmental refugees
(12/14/2006) Africa may be able to feed just 25% of its population by 2025 if soil degradation on the continent continues at its current pace, according to a water expert presenting at an upcoming United Nations University (UNU) conference on desertification in Algiers, Algeria. Karl Harmsen, Director of UNU's Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, says that should soil conditions continue to decline in Africa, nearly 75% of the continent could come to rely on some sort of food aid by 2025.
Forest protection could earn tens of millions for Ghana
(11/06/2006) Ghana could earn tens of millions of dollars for reducing its deforestation rate under a carbon-trading initiative proposed by a coalition of developing countries and under discussion this week at U.N. climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya.
Goodbye to West Africa's Rainforests
(01/22/2006) West Africa's once verdant and extensive rainforests are now a historical footnote. Gone to build ships and furniture, feed hungry mouths, and supply minerals and gems to the West, the band of tropical forests that once extended from Guinea to Cameroon are virtually gone. The loss of West Africa's rainforests have triggered a number of environmental problems that have contributed to social unrest and exacerbated poverty across the region.
Builder of rainforest canopy walkways believes conservation can be profitable
(09/20/2005) This month's issue of The Ecological Finance Review details Greenheart conservation Company, a for-profit company that designs, builds and operates conservation based canopy walkways (canopy trails) and other nature-based attractions around the world. Operating on the premise that conservation can be economically viable, Greenheart believes that is has already become a "model of how to shift gears from an industrial to a green economy." Greenheart has developed or is developing canopy walkways in Peru, Nigeria, Madagascar, Ghana, Brazil, Guyana, the United Kingdon, and Canada.
Studying the rainforest canopy
(04/21/2005) The Global Canopy Programme, a groundbreaking new project dedicated to studying rainforest canopies, is about to enter the implementation stage in five tropical forests across the globe. Headed by Dr. Andrew Mitchell of Oxford University, the project will place giant cranes in Brazil, Ghana, India, Madagascar and Malaysia
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from mongabay.com operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect,
an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region. Anthrotect is protecting the habitat of mongabay's mascot: the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.
"Rainforest" is used interchangeably with "rain forest" on this site. "Jungle" is generally not used.