Ecological Mapping of the Songor Ramsar site

The Songor Ramsar site is located in the Dangbe East district of the Greater Accra Region. It is one of Ghana’s wetlands that fall on the boundary of two flyways of water birds, the east atlantic flyway and the mediterranean flyway. The site regarded as an important feeding and roosting site for water birds as well as nesting site for marine turtles and fish species.  The ecological survey of the Songor site was therefore conducted as part of the efforts to map out potential cosastal biosphere reserves. The aim was to examine the potential for adoption of the site as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The objectives were to evaluate and prepare an invetory and ecological map of the most significant resources.  The Songor area is well known for its development particularly in the area of tourism and salt production. Yet due to  Increased population and its resultant high rural-urban migration coupled with high industrial activity the need to protect the area from the impact of land-based activities has been largely underscored. A comparison of satellite images taken between 1990 and 2007 showed a significant change in vegetation cover indicative of degradation. The coverage of healthy vegetation decreased from 3,087 hectares to 1,308 hectares.  The study  discovered Indicators of degradation identified included: coastal erosion, presence of invasive aquatic weed in the lower Volta river, siltation and changes in vegetation and land use patterns. The mapping exercise revealed that the most significant resources requiring protection were: three species of turtle, two species of mangrove, one specie of manatee, three monkey species, 15 species of fish and 42 species of water birds.   The coastal zone of Ghana covers about 6.5% of the total area, spread over four out of the ten regions. This area houses about 25% of the national population as well as 60% of the nation’s industries.  The coastal belt holds over 90 lagoons, marshes, swamps and estuaries.As a signatory of the Ramsar convention, Ghana has the responsibility to ensure wise use of its wetlands.  The ecosystem of the Songor biosphere reserve has a wealth of resources that must be sustainably managed to ensure maximization of benefits for both the present and the future.