Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe, Paul L. G. Vlek, Eckart Ehlers, Steve Duadze:
Population Growth and Deforestation in the Volta River Basin of Ghana -- Integration of Remote Sensing and Census Data


1University of Ghana, Population Impact Project, Ghana
2University of Bonn, Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Germany
3University of Bonn, Institute of Geography, Germany
4University of Ghana, Centre for Remote Sensing and GIS, Ghana

The Volta River basin in Ghana, which covers about 160,000 square kilometres, is one of the areas experiencing rapid deforestation in West Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the annual rate of deforestation in Ghana was 1.72% per annum or 120,000 hectares each year within the period 1990-2000 (FAO, 2000). The impact of deforestation is widespread, affecting the livelihoods of the local people, disrupting important environmental functions and severely disturbing the biological integrity of the original forest ecosystem. This paper relates the trends and patterns of population (measured by population density) in four sub-basins of the Volta river basin in Ghana, namely, White Volta, Black Volta, Main Volta and Daka to forest cover. It begins by assessing the amount of forest available in 1990 and 2000 in the respective districts, and concludes with an assessment of the relationship between population density and forest cover in 1990 and 2000. Predictions regarding forest cover that might be lost as a result of changes in population density in the sub-basins in 2000 was computed for the year 2010 based on a simple regression model and demographic projections. The forest cover predicted for 2010 was matched with actual forest cover in 2000, determined from remote sensing analysis of satellite images. A forest availability status table was generated to give an indication of the amount of forest cover that would be available for the districts in the sub-basins in the year 2010. Predictions show that about 20% and 25% of all sub-basins within the Black Volta and Daka sub"=basins, respectively, would experience deforestation as a result of increase in population. Finally, other indirect demographic factors, namely, the farming systems, practices and inputs used, type of crops grown, household consumption patterns, source of fuelwood as energy for cooking, extensification of agricultural lands, and general living conditions were all shown as indirect demographic reasons for deforestation.

Keywords: Africa, forest cover, Ghana, population, river basins


Contact Address: Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe, University of Ghana, Population Impact ProjectP.O. Box  59, Legon, Ghana, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004