Ezenwa I. S. Mathew, Nyarko K. Benjamin, Appollonia A. Okhimamhe, Bagamsah T. Thomas, and Okelola Francis
Environment and Natural Resources Research


Biomass burning in Northern Ghana is a major cause for concern because of its potential contribution to global warming, hence climate change. This study assessed the emission of trace gases from human activities in the Guinea savanna of Northern Ghana using the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Carbon content of biomass was determined from four different vegetation covers in the study area; namely, widely open savanna woodland, grass/herb with scattered trees, open savanna woodland and closed savanna woodland. Under each vegetation cover, five plots (1 m x 1 m) were demarcated for the estimation of above-ground biomass density. Using the combustion furnace method, emitted carbon, methane and carbon monoxide were estimated. Results showed that the emitted methane (CH4) and carbon monoxide (CO) differed significantly (p<0.05) under all the vegetation types. The gases were in perfect correlation (r=1.00) with the quantity of above-ground biomass density and carbon released, with more CO being emitted. Emission of CH4 and CO per hectare of burnt area in the open savanna woodland category was the highest with 0.001719 ton and 0.045119 ton respectively. Over time, emission of these gases may increase their atmospheric concentration, causing major health problems. The contribution to global warming, thus climate change, may also become quite significant. This underscores the fact that existing flaws in the wild fire management policy of Ghana must be effectively dealt with and appropriately implemented with regular reviews to reduce the annual wild fires that are very rampant in Northern Ghana, especially during the dry season.