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Provision and Management of Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Landscapes for Climate Change Adaptation in Semi Arid Northern Ghana
The reality of climate change happening has been recognized globally. Assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that the climate is changing at unprecedented fashion with the likelihood of serious impacts on society if no serious actions are taking to address underlying causes particularly the anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases. Home to hundreds of millions of people, the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate-related impacts and risks due to weak adaptive capacity and low resilience to the impacts of climate change. Most part of dry land West Africa including the northern parts of Ghana falls into the semi-arid region. The semi-arid regions of Ghana are characterized by low and erratic rainfall that affects agriculture and also vegetation development. However, most people in these regions depend on pastoral lifestyles and rain fed agriculture as their main source of livelihoods. Within the ecological constraints of these regions, climate variations are also projected to have significant impacts. Although many people in these regions already display some resilience, the existing pressures are expected to amplify in the coming decades. Ecosystem services defined as the benefits derived from ecosystem for human wellbeing have been recognized to underpin the livelihoods of many people, particularly the rural poor in the semi arid areas. Also, impacts of ecosystem destruction disproportionately affect the poor and the vulnerable. Lawra and Nandom Districts within the Guinea Savanna ecological zone of Ghana are part of the poorest Districts in Ghana. Besides, these Districts are predominantly rural and experience single very erratic and variable rainfall season annually which constrains their rain-fed agricultural livelihoods and thus exacerbating the poverty levels. Given the projected increase in the impact of climate change on the flow of ecosystem services upon which the livelihoods of many poor inhabitants of the communities in Lawra and Nandom depend, there is the need for long term adaptive strategies rooted in an improved understanding of the patterns and the distribution of ecosystem services provided from the semi arid landscapes; the trends and the drivers of change in these ecosystem services; as well as the institutional and governance processes that either enhance or constrain the management of the ecosystem services. This study therefore seeks to fill the knowledge gap on the potential role of the ecosystems and the flow of ecosystem services to reduce climate change vulnerabilities and enhance the adaptive capacities of the rural poor in these parts of Ghana. This knowledge, it is believed will inform appropriate policy interventions to promote effective adaptation and the long-term well-being of the most vulnerable in these communities in a changing climate.
Ecosystems, ecosystem services, human wellbeing, agro-ecosystems, landscapes, governance, semi arid areas