Effects of urban growth on historical land use/land cover changes in the Sunyani Municipality, Ghana
Keywords:Population growth, Urbanization, Land Use and Land Cover Changes, GIS and Remote sensing, Mid-sized cities
Geospatial techniques are very effective in establishing the extent of, and trends in human-induced land use/land cover (LULC) changes in urban areas globally. However, despite the rapid urbanization of Sunyani owing to the exponential rise in the city’s population, there are limited empirical studies on the effects of the rapid urbanization of the city on historical LULC changes and how that informs urban policymaking. Employing historical population data, supervised classification techniques, and remotely sensed Landsat data for the years 1986, 2000, 2005, 2011, 2015, and 2018, this study analyzes the extent to which the growth of the municipality has impacted the urban landscape. The municipality’s population has been growing with an intercensal population growth rate of 2.3%. LULC trends in our study were similar to development in most mid-sized cities across the world. The study recorded significant growth in area covered by built-up and farmlands resulting in a corresponding decrease in closed and open forest. The study, therefore, concludes that the rapid urbanization of the city results in the conversion of green spaces into other land uses with consequences for growth management, service provision, mobility, diversity and livability, conservation of species and ecosystems, and restoration of damaged environmental components. Consequently, the study recommends the strict enforcement of land use regulations to protect land uses that are under the threat of urban expansion to ensure sustainable development in the city.
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