The multifaceted socio-ecological impacts of charcoal production on the Afram Plains, Ghana

Thelma Arko*, Adelina Mensah, James Adomako, Fatima Denton, Pedi Obani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigates the environmental impacts of charcoal production in the Afram Plains region of Ghana, a forest-savannah transition ecosystem. Through a combination of remote sensing analysis, field surveys, and incorporation of local ecological knowledge, the research examines the extent of devegetation, depletion of tree species, and ecosystem degradation associated with charcoal production activities. The findings reveal the extensive scale of charcoal production, with over 2200 charcoal scars identified across the plain, and an alarming annual depletion of nearly 400,000 trees associated with a production of nearly 800,000 bags of charcoal. The indiscriminate felling of mature trees and low-efficiency traditional production methods have left vast areas in a degraded state. The study contributes to the literature by providing localized, species-level evidence of the impacts of charcoal production. It highlights the overexploitation of threatened species like Pterocarpus erinaceus (African Rosewood) and the concerning decline of economically valuable species like Nesogogordonia papaverifera and Erythrophleum africanum. Additionally, it identifies the resilience of Anogeissus leiocarpus, suggesting potential for sustainable use in charcoal production. The research underscores the urgency of addressing the challenges associated with charcoal production through multifaceted interventions, such as strengthening regulatory frameworks, promoting sustainable practices, facilitating reforestation efforts, engaging with local communities, and investing in research and data collection. By shedding light on the intricate relationship between anthropogenic activities and ecological dynamics, this study contributes substantively to ongoing discussions surrounding sustainable resource management and environmental conservation in vulnerable ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100586
Number of pages15
JournalTrees, Forests and People
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Afram Plains
  • Charcoal production
  • Socio-economic implications
  • Spatial observation and ground data
  • Tree cover loss


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