Spatio-temporal analysis of two coastal wetland systems in Ghana: Addressing ecosystem vulnerability and implications for fisheries development in the context of climate and land use changes
Lagoons and estuaries are among Ghana’s most critical habitats providing fish and other wildlife resources in support of the country’s economy. In the context of climate change, it is feared that these ecosystems are faced with enormous threat. Possible impacts relate to sea level rise (SLR) that may result in widespread loss of these habitats. Land use changes around wetlands could magnify the impacts of climate change on these ecosystems and may be disastrous for the welfare of coastal communities due to its potential impacts on property, water and food security. This paper addressed the question of ecosystem vulnerability in the context of climatic and land use stressors on fisheries biodiversity in two coastal ecosystems. Fish biodiversity and aquatic environmental parameters were used as surrogates of their ecological condition. Ecosystem vulnerability to possible climate and land use changes during a period of nearly three decades (1973-2010) was analyzed by the application of GIS. The Whin estuary in comparison to the Butuah lagoon generally reflects a highly productive system for fisheries development, meriting adaptation and management planning. However, the possible effects of climate change attributable to SLR could potentially frustrate these efforts due to potential increases in water surface geometry into wetland corridors with negative impacts for fisheries development. Land use changes around the water bodies if not properly managed, could exacerbate the climatic impacts. This study deployed baseline screening scenarios to provide first-hand scientific information that could inform roader vulnerability studies in support of ecosystem management for sustainable development.