|The fragmented tropical forest of southwestern Ghana creates a fascinating pattern from space. The dark green patches seen above are reserves set aside early in the 20th century; they are the only significant blocks of forest remaining in the country. Recognizing this priceless ecological heritage, the Ghanaian government has developed policies for sustainable forest management.|
In spite of the enormous ecological benefits of the forest and the government's effort to sustainably manage the reserves, shifting cultivation, uncontrolled logging, surface mining, charcoal production, and increasing population place enormous pressure on these remnants of Ghana's tropical forests. In the 1973 image (top left) the vegetation inside and outside the protected areas appears green and robust. In the 2002/2003 (top right), dramatic change is apparent; some of the northern reserves have been decimated and the northern edge of the forest zone has moved south.
Recently, mines have been permitted within some of Ghana's forest reserves. On the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ghana relaxed mining and logging regulations and nurtured investment by the mining and forestry industries through generous incentives during the 1980s and 1990s. Mines like the one within the Afao Hills Forest Reserve pose a serious threat to Ghana's remaining forests.
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