Timber production data are very essential for sustainable management of forest resources. In Ghana and most developing countries the rate of timber harvesting is increasing alarmingly, leading to depletion and degradation of forest resources. In a bid to investigate the rate of depletion of timbers in Ghana, the rate of timber harvesting in the On and Off reserve areas in the Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai Forest District of the Western Region, was evaluated over the period 2002 to 2012. Sampling in the On and Off reserves was conducted during an eight months period in 2013. A total of 57 different indigenous hardwood species in 22 families were identified to be harvested from both On and Off reserve areas. The data obtained from the Forest Services Division official records (monthly and annual report files) were on the species, volume and number of different economic timber species exploited on monthly basis from 2002 to 2012. The number and volume of timber species harvested from the forest reserves (On reserve) was higher and significantly different (p<0 .05="" 18="" 211="" an="" areas="" district="" during="" ecosystem="" eleven="" estimated="" exploited="" forest="" from="" harvested="" m="" number="" of="" off="" over="" period="" reserve="" stems="" sup="" than="" the="" those="" total="" trunk="" volume="" was="" with="" years.="" years="">3
. There was a significant difference (p<0 .05="" 190="" 2002="" 2012.="" 22="" 4="" 56="" 57="" age="" between="" disappearing="" economic="" forest.="" from="" harvested.="" harvested="" i="" in="" logging="" of="" off-reserves="" on="" out="" ranged="" reserve="" revealed="" sampled="" species="" that="" the="" timber="" to="" trees="" trend="" were="" whilst="" years.="" years="">Celtis zenkeri, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Piptadeniastrum africanum, Celtis mildbreadii and Ceiba pentandra were the most exploited species. The New National Forest Plantation Development Program has not been able to meet its intended target, introduced to bridge the gap between rates of extraction and planting. Only 1163.77 hectares were planted out of the total target of 2164.80 hectares during the period 2010 - 2013. The principles for achieving the goals of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and urgent conservation measures must be monitored to mitigate the consequences of forest degradation in Ghana.

1.1       Background
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the forest area of Ghana covered about 34 percent of the total land. Forest reservation started in Ghana in 1927 by the Colonial administration and ensured the reservation of 11 percent of the Country's total land area.

In all, 282 forest reserves and 15 wildlife protected areas, occupying more than 38,000 sq.km or about 16 percent of the total land area were established and gazetted in Ghana. There was an additional 4,000 sq.km of forest outside this gazetted area. The main aim of the reservation programme was to ensure the protection of substantial areas of forest but the process of forest land reservation ignored the traditional tenure system, which led to a negative attitude to reserves among the population, especially in forest fringe communities. This situation was aggravated by a failure to inform forest communities of their usufruct rights and by focusing of forest management on forest protection by the Central Government (Ghana Gazette, 2004).

According to Dei (1990), deforestation has claimed an enormous toll through the ages in environmental damage, economic deterioration and human misery. For various reasons such as logging and clearing for cash crops cultivation, the rainforest in Ghana has been decreasing rapidly and significantly. Since 1981, the annual rate of deforestation in Ghana has been two percent per year or 750 hectares each year. Ghana s tropical forest area is now just 25 percent of its original size. The impact of deforestation is widespread, affecting the livelihoods of local people, disrupting important environmental functions and severely disturbing the biological integrity of the forest ecosystem.

There is a serious concern in the region about climate change, soil erosion and large-scale desertification.

Since the colonial era, the exploitation of timber for commercial purposes has been part of the Ghanaian economy. But it is only since the start of the economic reform program known as Economic Recovery Program (ERP) in 1981 that deforestation has become a serious concern for the environmental balance of the region. Today, timber is Ghana s third most important export commodity after cocoa and minerals. Timber exports have increased in terms of volume and revenue since the start of the ERP, rising from $16 million in 1983 to 100 million in 1988 (Dei, 1992).

Population increase has increased the pressure on forest land for cultivation of arable and tree crops. Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), a system of management that gives room to the judicious harvesting and utilization of forest resources without jeopardizing the future, is the brain behind forest management in developed countries. SFM was defined as the stewardship and use of forests and forestlands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local national, and global levels, and does not cause damage to other ecosystems (Briner, 2004).

The data on the rate of timber production and harvesting in Ghana are deficient due to poor record keeping system and blithe attitude of Ghanaian civil servants. Where these data are available, they are not well studied and analysed. As a result, it has been so difficult to compare the rate of forest harvesting with the regeneration potential of the natural forests. This would have formed the premise on which forestry planning and development should rest like in the developed nations that have committed substantial amount of fund to monitor growth and harvesting in their natural forests and plantations.

Consequently, there is the need to carry out a field research for estimating the rate at which economic tropical hardwood timber species are removed from the tropical forest ecosystem of Ghana. This work therefore, assessed the rate of timber harvesting in the tropical ecosystem of Ghana, using BibianiAnhwiasoBekwai (BAB) Forest District as a case study, and also to find out whether this rate of extraction is in conformity with the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) set aside by the Forestry Commission, and its consequences on sustainable forest resources management.

1.2       Main Objective
To determine the rate of extraction of timber species in the Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai Forest District.

1.3       Specific Objectives
The specific objectives of this project are:

To identify and classify tree species extracted from the district over a period of 11 years (2002-2012) and during the year 2013.

To determine the age of the trees that are being logged/ exploited during the year 2013.

To determine the frequency and abundance of tree species that are being extracted during the year 2013.

To compare the rate of extraction between on and off- reserves over a period of 11 years.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 80 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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