Not the Usual Suspects: Environmental Impacts of Migration in Ghana’s Forest-Savanna Transition Zone

K. van der Geest, Kees Burger, A. Yelfaanibe, T. Dietz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

LANDSAT images published by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reveal large-scale land degradation in Ghana’s forest-savanna transition zone, most of which has allegedly occurred in a prime settlement area for migrant farmers from Northwest Ghana—the “usual suspects.” Several studies attribute environmental degradation in this region to the unsustainable farm practices of immigrants, most of whom belong to the Dagaba ethnic group. This section uses several lines of evidence at different scale levels to challenge these studies. First, UNEP’s LANDSAT images overstate the extent of the degradation. Second, most land degradation took place before the arrival of migrants from northwest Ghana. Third, previous studies blaming migrants for land degradation neglect key drivers of land cover change in the region. And fourth, primary data show that migrants’ farm practices are different, but not more degrading than those of native farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLand Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future
EditorsI. Chabay, M. Frick, J. Helgeson
PublisherElsevier Inc. Academic Press
Pages463-481
ISBN (Print)9780128012314
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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