Comparative Analysis of Woody Composition of Farmlands and Forest Reserve Along Afram River in a Tropical Humid Savanna of Ghana: Implications to Climate Change Adaptation

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Riparian forests (RF) composition is important for moderating climate change impacts on agricultural watersheds. However, they are under threat from deforestation of catchment areas. The study used remote sensing techniques and field inventorying to assess woody species composition of RF on farmland (FA) and protected area (PA) along Afram rivercourse in the humid savanna of Ghana. Analysis of Landsat images revealed a reduction in forest cover from 1986 (50 %) to 2014 (31 %) in the river catchment. Ground survey of 60 randomly selected plots (500 m2 per plot) equally divided between FA and PA along the river in a 50 m buffer zone showed a reduction in the number of woody species (diameter ≥5 cm) from PA (58) to FA (39). Shannon-Wiener Index for species diversity also reduced from PA (3.8 ± 0.05) to FA (3.1 ± 0.08). Diameter class distribution of species of both PA and FA showed a reversed J-shaped curve indicating successful regeneration. Reduction in species density per hectare from PA (545 ± 18) to FA (277 ± 13) is likely to increase the surface exposure of the riparian area in FA. This will heighten risks of climate disasters such as fires and flooding. Education of farmers on the importance of riparian forests may ensure their protection.


Riparian buffer Biodiversity Humid savanna Agricultural watershed 



The authors wish to express their sincere gratitude to the West African Climate Change and Adapted Landuse programme of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research for providing financial support to the corresponding author to carry-out this research as part of his postgraduate studies. Thanks to all colleagues for their insightful review of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WASCAL Graduate Research Program in Climate Change and BiodiversityUniversité Felix Houphouët BoignyAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  2. 2.Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  3. 3.Institute of BiosciencesUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  4. 4.Department for Geography and GeologyUniversity of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany

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