Biodiversity of Woody Species and their Utilization in a Savannah Ecological zone of Northern Ghana
By: R. Mensah, Effah AK, Attua EM, Chimsah FA, Boakye-Danquah J, Sackey I
Key Words: Community, Woody species, Uses, Species diversity, Management.
J. Bio. Env. Sci. 8(3), 22-45, March 2016.
Biodiversity composition and usage is fundamental to human existence. We aim in this study to: profile and estimate woody species diversity, identify their preferences, uses and assess local communities’ perception on species dominance, density, disturbance and options for biodiversity management. The research employed quantitative and qualitative survey methods. Semi-structured questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions were used for data collection. Stratified random sampling aided selection of study plots using 10m × 10m quadrat in four major LUs. The Sorenson index aided species similarity levels assessment. Family Importance Value used to determine most important plant families. The Shannon-Weiner Diversity and Evenness index were used to determine species diversity and evenness. Pearson Correlation Coefficient helped establish correlation among dominant, preferred, disturbed species. A total of 66 woody plant species belonging to 26 families and 54 genera were identified. Trend of high species diversity was found in; sacred groves followed by fallow fields, grazed open fields and cultivated fields. Reduction in species densities over the last decade was widely cited as reasons for this trend. Strong significant differences between dominant and preferred species were observed in Kpalgun (r=0.92, p<0.01), Cheshegu (r=0.90, p<0.01), Zagua (r=0.89, p<0.01), Daboshie (r=0.98, p<0.01) and Fihini (r=0.79, p<0.01). Most common species uses are food, fuel, income, medicine and construction. In Tolon district, biodiversity management is through enforcement of traditional norms and taboos; though bush fires and species exploitation affect sustainable biodiversity management. The study highlights rarity and commonness of plant species distribution in rarely assessed Savannah Ecological zone.