2.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND MATERIALS
3.0 PROFILING THE STUDY AREA
4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.0 THE REFLECTIVE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION
6.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Abstract: This journal article empirically explored the associated environmental impact of agricultural, residential and commercial land uses in the Bawku municipality. Questionnaires, researcher’s observation, individual and group Interviews as well as focus group discussions were the survey instruments used to collect the primary data for the study from 150 respondents comprising farmers, home builders, hunters, shop keepers and stakeholders. The study established that most of the inhabitants 147 (98%) are not aware of existence of environmental permission for specialized size and quantum of land uses. The study also established that nearly all the inhabitants did not understand the negative environmental impact of their land use activities. The study also attributed the unhealthy environmental practices of the inhabitants to indiscipline of the land users. The study identified that environmental impact of the various land uses included threat to the ecosystem, depletion of the ozone layer, destruction of rare plant, tree and aquatic species and the a general extinction of some the rare plant and tree species. The reflective social and economic effect of the environmental destruction included threat to human survival, drought, harsh weather and climatic conditions and health related problems. The study in response to the causes of the unhealthy environmental practices accordingly presented a number of recommendations including creating awareness of the need to acquire environmental permit before commencing particular land uses and educating the inhabitants on the need to conserve the environment.
Keywords: Negative Environmental Impact, Major Land Uses, Empirical Investigation
The environmental impact of land uses is becoming a force of global significance which was hitherto an issue of local environmental agenda. People try to satisfy their need from the land resources at the detriment of degrading environmental conditions. Countless of activities are been carried on land including residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural uses among other uses. It was projected by the UN-Habitat (2012) that ‘human footprint has affected 83% of the global terrestrial land surface and has degraded about 60% of the ecosystem services in the past 50 years. Land use and land cover (LUCC) change has been the most visible indicator of the human footprint and the most important driver of loss of biodiversity and other forms of land degradation’
The natural environment supports the existence of man in these land uses. However, the activities of man relating to land uses have been known to be threatening the natural environment which as a consequence will threaten the survival of man afterwards. The various components of the natural environment are been destabilized from the uses to which man undertakes in the land. In response to this threat by man to the environment several campaign messages from both domestic and international organizations have been launched to create awareness of the need to protect the natural environment in our use of the land.
In the Bawku municipality, the natural environment (biodiversity) has been degraded in several ways in the quest of undertaking agriculture, residential property development and commercial land use activities. The trees are cleared to make way for houses, road constructions and other developmental projects without replacement. The birds are hunted and have resulted in the displacement of nearly all species of birds in the municipal. The rivers are poisoned for fishing purposes destroying nearly all species of the fishes but for very few areas. At worst because of the poverty level of the folks, charcoal farming has become a ‘customarily approved’ job in the municipal. In Towns like Garu and Tempane, the village folks have succeeded in cutting down nearly all the trees for ‘Charcoal Burning” and for wood trading. There are also evidence of bush burning, unregulated refuse burning and chain-saw operations in the Municipal.
The environmental impacts of these unregulated environmental destructions for various means of survival and land uses have started attacking the communities in several ways. Drought and excessive rainless periods has struck the municipal in recent times. Most of the communities now facing threats of desert encroachment and during the time of the harmattan, the impact becomes unbearable. The sun heats the area without historical similarity.
It has become very obvious that, the inhabitants of the Bawku Municipality cannot marry the land uses with the natural environment and the signals are that if these rampant cutting of trees, unnecessary hunting of birds and poisoning of rivers are not regulated with immediate effects, the natural environment will soon become incapable of sustaining the lives of the people. The ordinary village folk do not understand the consequences of their actions and they see their actions as merely survival mechanisms.
This research journal article undertakes the empirical study of critical environmental impact of the major land uses and activities in the Bawku municipal. The study accordingly presents practical policy intervention at the local government level to curb the unhealthy environmental practices connected with the use of land.
2.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND MATERIALS
The journal made use of case study research design. A mixture of both quantitative and qualitative data was collected for the study. The quantitative data was collected using questionnaires and the qualitative data was collected using individual and group interviews and focus group discussions. The sampling techniques that were adopted for the study included purposive and snowball sampling. These were appropriate for the study because the sample frame could not be determined as a result of lack of record in that regard. The study included four communities and thus urban and rural characteristics were considered in their selection. Bawku Central (Sabongari) and Garu Central were the urban settings and Denugu as well as Yabrago constituted the rural settings. The study explored the impacts of agriculture on the environment from the perspective of the rural settings and therefore individual and group interviews were employed in that regard to collect the data. The residential and commercial uses of land and their associated environmental impact were investigated in the urban setting and involved the use of questionnaires and focus group discussions. Farmers, Hunters, Home Builders, shop owners and stakeholders constituted the respondents. A total of 150 respondents were studied comprising 10 hunters, 70 farmers, 50 home builders, 5 shop keepers and 15 other stakeholders. The data that was collected was aggregated and analyzed by categorizing issues into thematic areas, the use of percentages and frequency and cross tabulation. The method of reporting was basically descriptive.
3.0 PROFILING THE STUDY AREA
Bawku is a town and is the capital of the Bawku Municipal District, district in the Upper East region of north Ghana. It is located at 11°3′36″N0°14′24″W. Bawku has a Total Area of 1,275 km2 (492 sq. mi). Bawku has a 2012 settlement population of 69,527 people (2012, estimates). Bawku is one of the Border Towns in Ghana. It is located in the extreme north-eastern corner of Ghana. Bawku is one of the municipal assemblies in Ghana.
The Bawku Municipal District is one of the nine (9) districts in the Upper East Region of north Ghana. It is made of the following constituencies: Bawku Central, Binduri and Pusiga. The district contains the following towns and villages. Of note are: Bawku, Pusiga, Garu, Denugu/Danvorga, Kongo, Zorsi, Tempane, Wuriyanga, Narango, Mognori (Gumbo), Widana, Yabrago, Missiga, Bugri-Bulpielse, Manga, Basyonde, Binduri Natinga, Kulugungu, Gozesi and Bugri.
The Kusaasis are the indigenous inhabitant population of the Bawku area. There are however large immigrant populations from other locations in northern and southern Ghana as well as from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger and Nigeria. The district is characterized by agriculture, with Maize, Millet, Rice, tomatoes, soya beans and onions being amongst the main crops... The most dominant occupations of the inhabitants are farming, administrative works, teaching, food vending, Trading, Fishing, Artisanship, Auto mechanics among others
Bawku has a uniform temperature between 26°C and 33°C annually with an average annual temperature of 27°C. The speed of the wind in Bawku averages at 10km/h southwards and has an averages annual humidity of 77%. Bawku has a single rainfall maximum or regime. The sun is constantly hot throughout the year and always at its peak around May-June. Bawku is located in the tropical continental climate and in the Savannah vegetation zone. It has two seasons throughout the year; Thus Rainy season and Dry season. The soil components include loamy soil, sandy soil and clay soil
4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.1 Bio-Data of the Respondents
The study investigated a number of demographic features of the respondents on grounds that such characteristics of the respondents have influence of the environmental perceptions and understanding. The Bio-data covered the educational status of the respondents, the setting of the respondents, level of awareness on environmental permit, gender of the respondents and category uses to which they belonged. The analysis showed that majority of 150 respondents, 102 (68%) had no formal education and the remaining 48 (32%) were basically among the residential and commercial land users (See Table 1). Most of the respondents were from the rural setting 95(63.33%) and the remaining 55(36.67%) were from the urban setting (See Figure 2). It was also identified that 147(98%) of the respondents were not aware of the existence of environmental permit and this included a couple of the educated section of the respondents. The remaining 3(2%) who were aware of the environmental permits (See Table 2) were workers in the Municipal Assembly. This calls for the urgent need of creation of awareness in that regard. The study also included more males 80(53.33%) than women 70 (46.67%) (See Figure 1). The study also included a survey of 80 (53.33%) agricultural land users, 50 (33.33%) residential land users and 20 (13.34%) commercial land users (See Table 3). These were accordingly illustrated into tables and figures are below.
Table 1: Educational status of the respondents
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Source: Survey data, 2016