Land use/land cover change (LULCC) is an important driver of ecosystem changes in coastal areas. Despite being pervasive in coastal Ghana, LULCC has not been investigated to understand its effects on the potential for coastal landscapes to supply ecosystem services (ES). In this study, the impacts of LULCC on the potential supply of ES by coastal landscapes in Southwestern Ghana was assessed for the years 2008 and 2018 by using remote sensing and benefit transfer approaches. Based on available data, relevant provisioning and regulating ES were selected for the assessment while indicators to aid the quantification of the ES were obtained from literature. Supervised classification methods and maximum likelihood algorithms were used to prepare land use/land cover (LULC) maps and the derived LULC categories were assigned according to the descriptions of the Land Cover Classification System (LCCS). Potential supply of provisioning (food, fuelwood) and regulating (carbon storage) services was quantified and the spatial and temporal distributions of these ES illustrated using maps. The results show variations in food and fuelwood supply and carbon storage potentials over the study period and across different locations on the landscape. Potentials for fuelwood supply and carbon storage in mangrove forests indicated declining trends between 2008 and 2018. On the other hand, food-crop supply and carbon storage potential in rubber plantations depicted increasing patterns over the same period. Population, slope and elevation exhibited strong effects on LULC conversions to food crop and rubber plantations whereas these factors were less important determinants of mangrove forest conversions. The findings of the study have implications for identifying and addressing tradeoffs between land uses for agriculture, industrial development and conservation of critical coastal ES within the context of rapid land system transformations in the study region.
The research was authored by Stephen Kankam (Deputy Director-Hen Mpoano), Adams Osman, Justice Nana Inkoom and Christine Fürst
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