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Assessment of environmental degradation in Northern Ghana: A GIS based participatory approach

By Isaac Agyemang

Abstract

The task of understanding how human actions interact in a complex way to bring about environmental degradation requires a holistic research approach. This thesis examines the potential application of a GIS based participatory approach in the assessment of environmental degradation in northern Ghana. It is a development of GIS in participatory\ud research earlier proposed by Abbot et al. (1998) and modified by Williams and Dunn (2003) to assess the impacts of landmines in Cambodia. Using the DPSIR (Driving force-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) framework of the European Environmental Agency as an assessment framework, conventional GIS techniques were integrated with participatory research tools, dubbed "community truthing", to assess the state of the environment, evaluate the driving\ud forces, assess the impact, evaluate community coping strategies and their responses towards a better environment. The developed assessment framework was tested for its robustness in the Bolgatanga and Talensi-Nabdam districts of northern Ghana. While most of the study area\ud was a healthy environment in 1990, by 2004 about 600 km2 of the land area was degraded to the point where it could not be used for any commercial purposes. Spatially, the problem was more pronounced in the mid-north of Bolgatanga and northeast of Talensi-Nabdam as identified from fieldwork and the interpretation of satellite images. It was observed that the problem of environmental degradation is aggravated by socio-economic and cultural processes that motivate individuals to engage in activities that exert many pressures on theenvironment. Impacts were evaluated to include threats of desertification, food shortages,\ud cross-cultural tensions, health risk and reduction in living standards. Driving force reduction, effective environmental management practices, environmental awareness programmes and compensation to affected communities were responses participants perceived would help realise a better future environment. Based on the research findings, the thesis concludes that the developed assessment framework is an effective means of organising complex\ud environmental information for environmental decision making

Publisher: School of Geography (Leeds)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:602

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