Modelling forest loss and other land use change dynamics in Ashanti Region of Ghana

Forest losses amid land use dynamics have become issues of outermost concern in the light of climate change phenomenon which has captivated the world’s attention. It is imperative to monitor land use change and to forecast forms of future land use change on a temporal and spatial basis. The main thrust of this study is to assess land use change in the lower half of the Ashanti Region of Ghana within a 40 year period. The analysis of land use change uses a combination method in Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS). Cellular Automata and Markov Chain (Cellular Automata-Markov) are utilized to predict for land use land cover (LULC) change for 2020 and 2030. The processes used include: (i) a data pre-processing (geometric corrections, radiometric corrections, subset creation and image enhancement) of epoch Landsat images acquired in 1990, 2000, and Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) 2010; (ii) classification of multispectral imagery (iii) Change detection mapping (iv) using Cellular Automata-Markov to generate land use change in the next 20 years. The results illustrate that in years 2020 to 2030 in the foreseeable future, there will an upsurge in built up areas, while a decline in agricultural land use is envisaged. Agricultural land use would still be the dominant land use type. Forests would be drastically reduced from close to 50% in 1990 to just fewer than 10% in 2030. Land use decision making must be very circumspect, especially in an era where Ghana has opted to take advantage of REDD+. Studies such as this provide vital pieces of information which may be used to monitor, direct and influence land use change to a more beneficial and sustainable manner.
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