Variations in Soil Characteristics among Urban Green Spaces in Kumasi, Ghana
Urban soils, although crucial to defining urban vegetation types and strengthening the resilience of urban ecosystems, can be severely modified by human activities. Yet understanding of these modifications and their implications for soil properties is limited. This study examined the vertical and spatial variability of selected soil physicochemical properties (pH, SOM, OC, TN, and bulk density) in Kumasi, Ghana, using a stratified random sampling technique. Soil samples were collected at three depths (0-15 cm, 15-30 cm, and 30-60 cm) from 161 plots in eight green spaces types within two urban zones.
Mean topsoil pH ranged between 5.0 in the natural forest and 6.5 in home gardens. Mean bulk density, nitrogen, and carbon concentrations differed among green space types and depths (p<0.0001). Soil nitrogen and carbon concentrations in the 0-15 cm depth were two times greater than that of the 30-60 cm depth. Soil pH and organic matter concentrations were higher in the core urban soils than in the peri-urban while the reverse was true for total soil N and bulk density. Canonical discriminant analysis showed considerable separation of green space types based on the soil physicochemical properties. Higher total nitrogen and C:N ratios separated natural forest and cemetery from the other UGS types whereas higher pH and bulk densities separated plantations and home gardens from the rest of the UGS types. Furthermore, the subsoil layers were laden with undecomposed cloths, plastics, concrete and metal parts which can obstruct root growth and water movement. Results generally demonstrate considerable variability in soil properties among urban green spaces, and highlight the need for a better understanding of these patterns to ensure continued support for plant growth, green space sustenance and maintenance, and the ecosystem services derived from them.