Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Ghana, a West African country, possesses tropical high forests and savannas. There are a total of 3,600 species of flora, representing the three major taxonomic groups. There is only one known gymnosperm, the West African cycad (Encephalartos barteri), which is indigenous to Ghana. Current records show that there could be as many as 221 species of amphibians and reptiles, 728 species of birds and 225 mammalian species. The country’s threatened species include 4 species of marine turtle and 3 species of crocodile. There are 7 threatened bird species, including 4 endemic to the upper Guinea forest block. There are three species of frog; Baumann’s reed frog (Hyperolius baumanni), lime reed frog (Hyperolius fusciventris), Bobiri reed frog (Hyperolius sylvaticus) and one lizard species, the false agama (Agama sylvanus), endemic to Ghana. There is a high degree of butterfly endemism in Ghana where about 23 species are classified as endemic or near endemic. Work on diversity of organisms in marine and aquatic systems has concentrated mainly on those 81 species that are exploited for food. About 392 marine species of organisms comprising 347 fish species has been recorded. Ghana’s freshwater fish fauna includes 157 species of which 9 are endemic. The 4 main obstacles facing the conservation of biodiversity are: inadequate financial resources, limited skilled human capacity, deficiency in infrastructure and a general lack of awareness on the importance of biodiversity.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Currently, there are 16 legally constituted wildlife reserves covering about 5.3% of the total surface land area. These are categorized into: 1 strict nature reserve, 6 National Parks, 2 wildlife sanctuaries, 6 resource reserves and 1 Biosphere reserve. In addition, there are 6 wetlands, which have been declared as Ramsar sites.
Percentage of Forest Cover
The tropical forest in Ghana covers 10.2% of total land area. This represents 2.46 million hectares of forest cover and is mainly confined to the southern and middle sectors of the country. Most of the forests only exist in statutory forest reserves with very little patches of traditionally protected forest occurring as sacred groves outside the reserves and representing less than two percent of the total forest area. The rest of the country is made up of savanna vegetation.