Postcards from the field: Ghana Atiwa Landscape’s partners set off to map land uses

By: Margaret Arwari

10 September 2020

The project in a nutshell

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)’s Governing Multifunctional Landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa (GML) project, funded by the European Union, is working to implement a jurisdictional approach towards zero-deforestation agro-commodities in Eastern Ghana’s Atiwa landscape. How will this be achieved? By building a business case and developing strategies and action pathways for sustainable landscape development. With this aim, CIFOR is convening all stakeholders in the landscape – local government, traditional authorities, farmers and agricultural producers, companies and traders sourcing agro-commodities, forest users, other NGOs and research institutions – to jointly work on a ‘green’ landscape development strategy.

Focus on: Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) mapping

CIFOR’s partners in Ghana are currently developing maps of LULC classes that will inform the participatory research and activities in the Atiwa Landscape.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in collaboration with the Resource Management Support Centre (RMSC) of the Forestry Commission (FC) and geographic information system (GIS) experts started by reviewing the existing LULC classification schemes and LULC maps in Ghana. This was followed by a reconnaissance survey using drones to identify the various LULC classes in the landscape.

A team of GIS officers and field staff have already collected datasets from 797 training points for the LULC classes, including bio-physical information of different vegetations using six satellite-derived vegetation indices.

Moreover, farmers, landowners, forest guards and community representatives have been engaged to give information and insights into the several LULC classes and the dynamics of the changing LULCs.

A mosaic of various LULC classes. Photo: KNUST/FC

Sneak peek

The preliminary maps show three main findings:

  • Oil palm (both large-scale plantations and smallholder and subsistence farms) and cocoa tree (both monoculture and agroforestry cocoa) crops are the predominant LULC classes in the Atiwa landscape.
  • The Atiwa landscape is characterized by complex mosaics. Between oil palm and cocoa tree plantations, there are patches of citrus and croplands. In a relatively small extent, rubber plantations are also observed in the landscape. Within most oil palm trees, especially young ones, there are intercropped food crops.
  • Mining activities are evident across the landscape, especially along the tributaries of rivers.

Why do LULC maps matter?

LULC maps will be produced for the years 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020, as well as land cover change maps for the periods 2015-2018 and 2017-2020. They will be fine-tuned, presented, discussed, and validated by the landscape’s stakeholders, before they are submitted for use in national mapping processes, including in Ghana’s REDD+ strategy.

In the framework of the GML project, the final maps will feed into the Atiwa Landscape Platform’s decision-making processes. The maps will enable the various project stakeholders to deliberate on sustainable agricultural development and forest conservation issues in the landscape.

The complete maps will be shared by 18 September 2020.