- Scholarship HolderUniversity of Cape Coast
Spatial Model of Land Cover and Cultural Landscape Change Nexus in Greater Accra Region, Ghana
The Greater Accra Region has the second largest population in Ghana with the most extensive physical alteration and degradation of natural land covers. According to Kpele teachings of the Ga-Dangmes, oceans, lagoons, rivers and mountains among others are envisaged as an abode for dzemànwọdzi (sky-dwelling spirits). This idea infused with the concept of taxonomy created peaceful and harmonious relationships between human beings and the natural ecosystem. Thus, the Odaw, Korle, Songor and Densu lagoons were preserved as sacred. This helped to regulate and ensure full regeneration of aquatic and wetland vegetation. Unfortunately, this cultural perspective has given way to possibilism, Christianity, government institutional management and renewed mind-sets which have resulted in wetlands and lagoons being transformed into saltpans and residential areas. Similarly, forest areas such as: Shai Hills, Afienya, Tsokomey, Pokuase, Ayikuma and Osudoku are gradually becoming concrete surfaces. The resulting physical effects of these developments are: a reduction in the aesthetic value of natural covers, pollution, sea erosion and yearly flooding, among others. In addition to the physical effects of land cover changes, one predominant effect, mostly unaccounted for, is the changing cultural landscape which may be due to the difficulties in quantifying and assessing such phenomena. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to employ a spatial model and ethnographic approach to assess the relationship between land cover change and the culture of the Ga-Dangmes in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.
In order to achieve this, land covers (1985 to 2015) will be modelled using satellite images from United States Geological Survey and remote sensing software. In-depth interviews will be conducted with key heads of departments (Town and Country Planning, District Planners, Assemblymen, Water Research Institute and the Survey Department) to have a better understanding of the causes of rapid land cover change. About 600 respondents will be sampled based on a cluster spatial approach while focus group discussions involving traditional leaders, each from Ga Mashie, Tema Manhia, Ningo and Ada, will be held to help understand the cultural practices affected by the natural land cover changes. Content analysis will be employed in analysing data collected via focus group discussions. Other instruments to be used to solicit responses from respondents will be photos, questionnaires, interview schedules and interview guides while a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) receiver, remote sensing software and aerial maps are employed to aid in land cover modelling.
Information on the causes and effects of rapid natural land cover change and how old cultural practices of conservation can help in the restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems; hence, achieving Target 2 of SDG 12 while strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards in the Greater Accra Region (Target 1 of SDG13). Lastly, this information would help protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage (Target 4 of SDG 11).
Adams Osman works with the Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Cape Coast as a Principal Research Assistant. He holds a B.A. in Social Sciences (Economics and Geography) and a Master of Philosophy in Geography & Regional Planning from the University of Cape Coast. His areas of interest are Geospatial Technologies for Coastal Zone Management, Land Use Planning, Hazard Modeling, Disaster Management and Culture Sustainability. Projects he has worked on are: Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM-CRC), Spatial Approach: Infrastructure planning in Ghana (World Bank-Ghana), Spatial Mapping of Conflicts in Ghana (UNDP & IDS), Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP-USAID), Mid-Term Feed the Future Survey (METSS-USAID) etc. His publications (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Adams_Osman) are skewed towards research interests but with more emphasis on ensuring sustainable development. His PhD thesis is on Land Cover and Cultural Landscape Change in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana; mainly because the region is prone to rapid change resulting from urbanization. Adams Osman is open to new challenges and aspires to work with people from other fields of expertise and institutions.