Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
This paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in the rural savannahs of northeast Ghana. Many of those degradation narratives take their root in the past during the colonial era, but the conceptual underpinnings of those narratives have remained
... es have remained essentially a-historical, a-political, and a-cultural. This paper shows that the organisation of space and land uses in pre-colonial communities in northeast Ghana was governed by certain traditional knowledge systems which were ignored by the colonial authorities. While narratives about landscape degradation by natives were propagated by the colonial government to justify a need to preserve the environment, their attempts to control land management matters were essentially for political and economic reasons. The study concludes that current policy frameworks on desertification and land management need to move beyond inherent historical biases. Rather, attention ought to be given to critical historical reflections on the dynamic processes by which variations in socio-economic relations of resource access/use, farming practices, land tenure arrangements, and political agendas interact with changes in the biophysical environment to produce different land cover trajectories over time.