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Water 2018, 10(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010009

Assessing Impacts of Land Use Changes on the Hydrology of a Lowland Rainforest Catchment in Ghana, West Africa

1
Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Mines and Technology, P.O. Box 237, Tarkwa, Ghana
2
Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, PBAG x01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
3
School of Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, PBAG x01, Scottsville 3209, Durban, South Africa
4
South African Environmental Observation Network, Grasslands-Wetlands-Forests Node, P.O. Box 13053, Cascades 3202, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 28 November 2017 / Published: 23 December 2017
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Abstract

Impact assessments of actual and potential land use (LU) changes on hydrology are vital in land use planning, which is a prerequisite for effective water resources management. In this study, impacts of actual, as well as potential, LU changes on the hydrology of the Bonsa catchment (1482 km2), Ghana, West Africa, were assessed using the Agricultural Catchments Research Unit (ACRU) hydrological model. Baseline, current and potential future LU maps for three scenarios, namely, business-as-usual (BAU), economic growth (EG) and economic growth and reforestation (EGR), driven by observed climate between 1990 and 2009, were used for the study. The results indicate that peak and dry season streamflows between 1991 and 2011 have increased by 21% and 37%, respectively, under the current land use in comparison to the baseline due to a decrease in evergreen and secondary forests by 18% and 39%, respectively, and an increase in settlements, mining areas and shrubs/farms by 81%, 310% and 343%, respectively. The potential future LU scenarios suggest that there may be further increases in streamflows, but the historical land use changes between 1991 and 2011 were so substantial that they will continue to impact streamflow changes in any of the future land use scenarios. The study also showed that variability of streamflow changes at the catchment scale was lower than at the subcatchment scale. For the scenarios of potential future LU changes, the BAU shows the highest increases in streamflows, while the EGR shows the least. Policy interventions for effective management of the catchment are recommended. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bonsa catchment; Ghana; hydrology; land use scenarios Bonsa catchment; Ghana; hydrology; land use scenarios
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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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Aduah, M.S.; Jewitt, G.P.W.; Toucher, M.L.W. Assessing Impacts of Land Use Changes on the Hydrology of a Lowland Rainforest Catchment in Ghana, West Africa. Water 2018, 10, 9.

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