Environment and conservation

“Environment and conservation” deals with the environmental impacts of biomass production, processing and trade and the conservation of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.

Although agricultural production systems in many parts of Africa are extensive, primarily traditional cropping and livestock systems, they can have strong environmental impacts. For example, natural forest, wetland and riverine ecosystems are frequently under pressure from a conversion to agricultural land, wood harvesting, and water withdrawal for irrigation. Agricultural intensification could help reduce the negative environmental effects of sprawling low-input cultivation systems, however only if land use decisions take into account environmental sustainability (water, soil) and biodiversity conservation.

This thematic area features contributions related to:

  • Biodiversity conservation within agricultural production systems, e.g., species diversity and ecosystem services of  agricultural production systems, effects of pesticides and fertilizers, diversity of cropping and agroforestry systems, crop genetic diversity
  • Biodiversity conservation at the landscape level, e.g., structural diversity of agricultural landscapes, landscape fragmentation, effects of agricultural expansion on natural ecosystems, ecosystem degradation, conservation measures and management agreements
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of biomass production, processing and trade, e.g., life cycle assessment, effects on water and soil, environmental certification schemes, technical solutions for environmental protection such as waste and water management

Theme coordinator: Christine Schmitt

Bertrand Festus Nero, Daniel Callo-Concha, Manfred Denich. 2018. Structure, Diversity, and Carbon Stocks of the Tree Community of Kumasi, Ghana. Forests (9, 519): 1 - 17 pp.

Urban forestry has the potential to address many urban environmental and sustainability
challenges. Yet in Africa, urban forest characterization and its potential to contribute to human wellbeing
are often neglected or restrained. This paper describes the structure, diversity, and composition of
an urban forest and its potential to store carbon as a means of climate change mitigation and
adaptation in Kumasi. The vegetation inventory included a survey of 470,100-m2 plots based on
a stratified random sampling technique and six streets ranging from 50 m to 1 km. A total of
3757 trees, comprising 176 species and 46 families, were enumerated. Tree abundance and species
richness were left skewed and unimodally distributed based on diameter at breast height (DBH).
Trees in the diameter classes >60 cm together had the lowest species richness (17%) and abundance
(9%), yet contributed more than 50% of the total carbon stored in trees within the city. Overall,
about 1.2 million tonnes of carbon is captured in aboveground components of trees in Kumasi,
with a mean of 228 t C ha−1
. Tree density, DBH, height, basal area, aboveground carbon storage,
and species richness were significantly different among green spaces (p < 0.05). The diversity was
also significantly different among urban zones (p < 0.0005). The DBH distribution of trees followed
a modified reverse J-shaped model. The urban forest structure and composition is quite unique.
The practice of urban forestry has the potential to conserve biological diversity and combat climate
change. The introduction of policies and actions to support the expansion of urban forest cover and
diversity is widely encouraged.

Show details Posted by : Dr. Bertrand Nero

Raymond Jatta, Nana Afranaa Kwapong, Bertrand Festus Nero, Oluwole Fatumbi. 2018. Biomass-Based Innovations in Demand Driven Research and Development Projects in Africa. Sustainability (10 (8)): 1-18 pp.

The case for demand-driven research and development has received important considerations among governments, donors and programme implementing partners in development planning and implementation. Addressing demand is believed to be a bottom-top approach for designing and responding to development priorities and is good for achieving development outcomes. In this paper, we discuss the concept and application of demand-driven research and development (DDRD) in Africa. We use evidence of six projects implemented under the BiomassWeb Project in Africa. We focus on parameters on level of engagement of stakeholders—whose demand is being articulated, the processes for demand articulation, capacity building and implementation processes, innovativeness of the project, reporting and sustainability of the project. We find that the nature of the institutions involved in articulation and implementation of demand-driven research and development projects and their partnerships influence the impact and reporting of demand-driven projects.

Show details Posted by : Dr. Bertrand Nero

Bertrand F. Nero and Alexander K. Anning. 2018. Variations in Soil Characteristics among Urban Green Spaces in Kumasi, Ghana. Environmental Earth Sciences (77 (317)): 1 - 12 pp.

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.

Show details Posted by : Dr. Bertrand Nero

Habib,Y., Abagale, F.K.,Amoakoh,O.A.,Jengre,N. and Owusu,K.A.. 2017. Stimulating Riparian Buffer on Agricultural Landscapes: A Review from Water Management and Climate Change Perspective in Ghana. Environment and Forestry (109): 48059-48063 pp.

The current and future states of Agriculture are challenged with limited water resource vis-à-vis global changing climate; erratic rainfall and drought potential, as well as rising temperatures causing evaporation of freshwater resources. There are equally many similar primary causes in addition to the threats outlined as they are directly linked with declining agricultural growth. Farmlands adjoined to freshwater sources (flowing stream), or constructed small-scale reservoirs are used for the purpose of irrigation on an agricultural landscape. Sedimentation, inorganic chemicals and nutrient loading from
crop/livestock fields enter run-off into these water sources posing impairment challenges to the water body and thus, water quality and reservoir capture/holding capacity reduces. Hence, the urgent need for a sustainable approach to manage water resource especially on Agricultural landscapes characterized by this subject matter. The establishment of Riparian buffer system proves to manage these exacerbated effects adequately. Riparian
is significant in environmental and natural resource management as they enhance water quality and biodiversity through its vegetative products and services in land-use systems. In a perspective, riparian buffer can be said to have a dual purpose by contributing to carbon sequestration as well as an adaptive measure in water management; to reduce rate of freshwater evaporation on Agricultural landscapes. Additional products such as food and medicinal benefits could be generated. This paper presents an archetypal Riparian buffer design suitable for replication in Ghana and other countries with emphasis on Agro-ecological gains, climate change resilience and natural resource management and conservation.

Stimulating Riparian Buffer on Agricultural Landscapes: A Review from Water Management and Climate Change Perspective in Ghana. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319292283_Stimulating_Riparian_Buffer_on_Agricultural_Landscapes_A_Review_from_Water_Management_and_Climate_Change_Perspective_in_Ghana [accessed Sep 7, 2017].

Show details Posted by : Alex Owusu Amoakoh

Bertrand F. Nero. 2017. Urban green space dynamics and socio-environmental inequity: multi-resolution and spatiotemporal data analysis of Kumasi, Ghana. International Journal of Remote Sensing (38 (23)): 6993-7020 pp.

Urban green spaces (UGS) are crucial for urban sustainability and resilience to environmental vulnerabilities but are often relegated in cities in the global south. This article analysed the spatio-temporal change, composition, extent, and distributional inequities associated with UGS in Kumasi, Ghana. Spatial techniques and Gini index were combined in the assessment. Kumasi UGS coverage is currently 33% but declined fourfold faster in recent years (2009–2014) than previously (1986–2002). The overall accuracy of the change maps: 1986–2014 and 2009–2014 were, respectively, 0.96 ± 0.02 and 0.97 ± 0.02. The Shannon entropy for built-up sprawl in 1986 and 2014 were 0.80 and 0.99, respectively. The UGS area per capita for 2009 (R2 = 0.50, p = 0.049) and 2014 (R2 = 0.53, p = 0.0398) were moderately correlated with socioeconomic conditions of sub-metropolises. The Gini coefficient for both vegetation and tree cover was 0.26. UGS cover is plummeting and somewhat unevenly distributed across Kumasi. Strategic planning for UGS can ensure ample availability, equity in access, and resilience to climate-related vulnerabilities.

Show details Posted by : Dr. Bertrand Nero

Girma Kelboro and Till Stellmacher. 2015. Protected areas as contested spaces: Nech Sar National Park, Ethiopia, between ‘local people’, the state, and NGO engagement. Environmental Development (Vol. 16): 63-75 pp.

Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Nech Sar National Park in Southern Ethiopia, this paper shows that insufficient consideration of local livelihood needs and land-use patterns constitute major underlying reasons for the limited effectiveness of the national park. We interviewed a total of 120 smallholder and pastoralist households living in and around Nech Sar National Park, using semi-structured questionnaires. We also collected qualitative data through expert interviews, focus group discussions and participatory observation. The findings uncover that there is a mismatch between a top-down, state-initiated conservation approach, local needs as well as regional political interests, conditions to be found in many national parks in sub-Saharan Africa. We conclude that the situation in Nech Sar National Park calls for integrated land-use planning approaches based on transdisciplinary research and involvement of all stakeholders beyond the rhetoric of participation.

Show details Posted by : Dr. Girma Kelboro

Mesele Negash and Girma Kelboro. 2014. Effects of Socio-Economic Status and Food Consumption Pattern on Household Energy uses: Implications for Forest Resource Degradation and Reforestation around Wondo Genet Catchments, South-Central Ethiopia. Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review (Vol. 30, No. 1): 27-46 pp.

Past studies on household energy use paid less attention to the effect of
socio-economic status and food consumption pattern on household
energy consumption. The objective of this study was to investigate the
effect of socio-economic status and food consumption on households’
fuel energy consumption, and implications on forest resource depletion.
Household interview and detailed energy consumption measurement
were carried out. Four top end use types – consuming more wood fuel
equivalent energy in their order of importance included:
(food prepared from
Ensete ventricosum
) > bread (Maize) > roasting
grain (
) > local cabbage. The amount of wood equivalent energy
needed per household per year was highest for rich households,
followed by middle and poor households. The majority of rich
households preferred wood and BLT (branch, leaves, twigs) whereas
poor households prioritized BLT and cow dung as major sources of
energy. The forest in the nearby catchments has served as the source of
fuel wood across all wealth categories. Ninety per cent of the wood
collectors, in particular the poor, were also dependent on the forest
catchments as a source of income. The study concluded that household
energy consumption pattern is affected by socio-economic status, type
of food, fuel, stoves, and amount and frequency of baking and cooking.
Hence, these factors should be considered in household energy saving
interventions and in efforts to reduce its impact on forest degradation.
Show details Posted by : Dr. Girma Kelboro

Prince Kwadwo Amoako, Mawusi Amenuvor, Anthony Baidoo, Ernest Frimpong Asamoah, Alex OwusuAmoakoh. 2017. Assessment of the Growth of Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) Seedlings on Amended Tailings. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research and Innovations (Vol. 5, Issue 1, ): pp: (25-28), pp.

The study basically sought to find a substitute to the overburdened topsoil stockpile; the only source of soil for nursing seedlings in Noble Gold BibianiLimited. Tailings were collected from the mine tailing storage facility (TSP)and filled into 15 polybags, tailings amended with topsoil in 1:1 ratio were also filled into 15 polybags as well as topsoil from stockpile were also filled into 15 polybags. Seedlings of Leucaena leucocephala were raised on the three media and observed for ten weeks with readings on height and diameter taken each fortnight. The dry matter weight was taken on the tenth week. A comparison of the treatments showed that seedlings on tailings amended with topsoil had the highest growth in terms of height, diameter and dry weight, recording an average of 54.7cm, 0.5cm and 2.04g for height, diameter and dry weight respectively as against 36.3cm, 0.5cm and 1.57g in seedling on the topsoil. In conclusion, amended tailing soil significantly support the growth of L. leucocephalaseedlings and could be used as substitute to topsoil from stockpile.

Show details Posted by : Alex Owusu Amoakoh


Community participation in forest management has gained popularity as one way of ensuring sustainable forest management and so the Bleih Community Forest management was assessed for its adherence to the principles of participation. The study was done in the communities around the Bleih Community Forest, northern Liberia, Sanniquillie Nimba County. A case study approach with focus group discussion and interviews was used to assess stakeholders’ perspectives on people’s participation in the management of the forest. The data collection was done in November/December, 2015. The interview covered 185 respondents while 85 community members participated in the focus group discussion. Data collected from the interview was subjected to SPSS (version 21) for quantitative analysis and that collected from the focus group discussion was analysed descriptively. Management of the Bleih Community forest was not fully inclusive of the members of the communities surrounding the forest. Eighty four percent (84%) of the respondents did not participate from the development of the management plan to the management and monitoring of the forest. Respondents outside the 36-56 (years old) age category had lower participation likewise females. In terms of people’s position in the community, the traditional leaders did not participate at all in the implementation and monitoring of the forest. Also respondents’ level of education and place of origin did not increase their level of participation in forest management. The respondents (89%) of all the categories (age, sex, position in the community and level of education) did not show any level of satisfaction with the forest management, their needs were not met as benefits were not given as requested or promised.The study recommends active participation of the communities in the management of the forest.

Show details Posted by : Alex Owusu Amoakoh


The roles of the CBG’s and their impact on the development of communities cannot be under-estimated, but with current emergence of these groups, there are doubts as to whether they are well structured and their roles being clearly defined in order to reduce any conflicts of interest that may occur. This study therefore tried to determine the extent of CBG’s involvement in sustainable forest management, their roles in ensuring sustainable forest management and the constraints faced by the Groups in performing their roles in forest management. The findings of the study indicated that CBG’s fringing Cape Three Points forest reserve were actively involved in all the processes (i.e. decision-making, implementation, monitoring and benefit sharing) geared towards sustainable forest management. The results also emphasized on the roles of the CBG’s comprising boundary clearing, monitoring the reserve, creation of forest protection awareness, preventing illegal chainsaw operations, reporting of illegal activities, fire prevention and prevention of encroachment. The groups were however confronted with numerous constraints that inhibit effective performance of their roles. These were inadequate materials and logistics, delayed payment of funds, financial constraints, attacks from illegal chainsaw operators and weak collaboration with authorities. The overall conclusion shows that the involvement of the CBG’s in management has immensely contributed to the control, prevention and reduction of illegal activities and bushfires in the forest reserve.

Show details Posted by : Alex Owusu Amoakoh