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Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1976; doi:10.3390/su9111976

Estimating the “Forgone” ESVs for Small-Scale Gold Mining Using Historical Image Data

State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Department of Land Reclamation and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Forest Resources Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi AK000-AK911, Ghana
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 September 2017 / Revised: 17 October 2017 / Accepted: 21 October 2017 / Published: 29 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Ghana’s economic development relies largely on the mining industry, but the ecological cost is very high, particularly for the small-scale sector. To ascertain and give an account of the ecological pressures from the small-scale gold mining sector, we quantified and appraised the ecosystems (land cover types) degradation due to mining land use along portions of the renowned Pra River basin of Ghana. The study classified and analysed high-quality Landsat image data (1986–2016) to monitor processes and changes in the river basin and adopted the Ecosystem Service Value (ESV) model to quantify the forgone value in monetary term. The results revealed that the initial ESV of 17.69 million US$ in 1986 increased to 18.40 million US$ in 2002 for the study landscape with the small-scale mining sector accounting for 8.4% of the trade-off costs. The expansion of forest areas and its higher value coefficient (VC) was, however, prevalent and this resulted in a net positive change during this period. However, in 2016, out of the total ESV of 14.63 million US$ obtained, the small-scale mining activities accounted for 36.8% of the trade-off costs. The substantial increase in trade-off costs with a subsequent decrease in ESV in the study landscape, following the intensification of small-scale gold mining, indicates that their activities have been degrading the watershed ecosystem and are, therefore, unsustainable. The study affirms the need for policymakers/government to review the laws, particularly on post-mining monitoring schemes to deter illegal miners and support the registered small-scale miners who are willing to implement land rehabilitation activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ecosystem Service Values (ESVs); Provisional National Defense Council Law (PNDCL); small-scale gold mining; ecological degradation; Ghana Ecosystem Service Values (ESVs); Provisional National Defense Council Law (PNDCL); small-scale gold mining; ecological degradation; Ghana

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Asamoah, E.F.; Zhang, L.; Liu, G.; Owusu-Prempeh, N.; Rukundo, E. Estimating the “Forgone” ESVs for Small-Scale Gold Mining Using Historical Image Data. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1976.

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