Human-caused effect on tree health and growth condition of five commercial trees in the savanna wood lands, Tamale-Ghana

This research assessed the extent of human activities that cause injuries and wounds to trees and their effects on the growth of five commercial trees in the savanna wood lands (Tamale metropolis). The study was conducted in six (6) suburbs within two sub metros; Tamale Central (Aboabo, Zogbeli and Sabonjida) and Tamale South (Lamashegu, Vittin, and Kalpohini) in the Tamale metropolitan in the Northern region of Ghana. Descriptive social survey was designed to portray accurate profile of persons, events and situations. A triangular methodology comprising of questionnaire, interview and observation technique was employed in gathering the needed data. For basic data collection, systematic random sampling was used to select sample of 376 respondents from the six suburbs in the metropolis. There was general assertion that state authorities and residents do not protect the trees especially those in the principal streets of the metropolis. This affected their growth led to the death of many. Educating residents and critically regulating the activities of advertising companies in the metropolis may significantly reduce injuries and wounds of trees.

1. Introduction

The importance of woody plants in the ecosystem cannot be overemphasized. Trees are not only used for timber purposes but play an important role in restoring, reclaiming and rejuvenating deputed soils. Their ecological and environmental uses, educational and recreational value as well as their historical and aesthetical uses are vital to human lives [1]. Trees have been vital for the people of Ghana. For instance, majority of the populace still depend upon firewood as fuel for cooking resulting in deforestation. The sub-Sahara and savanna zones are adversely affected by this problem. Furthermore, human consumption and the constant peeling of the bark of trees for medicinal purposes have induced savannization of sub-Sahara Africa [2]. It is reported that, human activities have transformed much of the sub-Saharan tropical forests into landscapes. Timber harvesting, firewood collection, illegal tree felling and uncontrolled bush burning are some of the activities which led to the drastic reduction of the Ghanaian forest [3]. Deforestation has also led to increase soil erosion and loss of reliable water supply decrease in agricultural production leading to low standard of living [3]. Harvesting trees for firewood, fencing backyard garden, and medicinal purposes is common in developing countries [2] and Tamale metropolis in the northern region of Ghana is no exception. Some commercial trees are consistently wounded and injured due to constant harvesting as well as the rapid development of the metropolis. Most peasant farmers are forced convert their farmlands into backyard gardens and as such require fencing against animal destruction. Planting trees is good and necessary for existence and support of human lives. However, due to indiscriminate harvesting of trees because of the increasing demand for local and herbal medicines, there is massive and visible degradation of planted and wild trees in the metropolis. In fact, these activities have led to the death of many trees due to exposure to hard weather conditions. This has lead to associated hardships such as poor rainfall pattern, destruction of properties by wind, outbreak of diseases, and desertification. The Tamale metropolis lies within the savannah woodland zone. The trees in this zone are short scattered wood lots in nature. The major trees studied were Parkia biglobosa (dawadawa), Azadirachta indica (nim), Acacia Senegal (acacia), Khaya senegalensis (African mahogany) or (kuntunkuri), and Adansonia digitata (baobab). These tree species were selected for the study because of their dominance and their economic value to the people of the metropolis. P. biglobosa (dawadawa) is a perennial deciduous tree that belongs to the family Fabaceal. The tree is distinguished by its thick dark brown-grayish bark and bears hanging pods that measures approximately 30 to 45cm long with each pod containing close to 30 seeds. The seeds are commonly known as locus beans that tend to be pinkish in colour on their early stages but changes to dark brown on full maturity [4]. The reported economic importance of P. biglobosa includes; the stem bark is used in treating wounds, burns, ulcers, and high blood pressure. The leaves are used as an antidiarrheal agent and the seeds are used in making popular dawadawa seasonings and substitute for coffee. K. senegalensis (mahogany) is the least popular among the African mahogany group of species belonging to the family Meliaceae. The tree grows to about 35m high and 3m in girth. It has a dense crown and short bole, covered with a dark-gray scaly bark. The slash is dark-pink and yields gum. The leaves are pinnate with 3 to 4 pairs of leaflets; 5 - 10cm long and 2.5-5 cm broad, more or less elliptic and obtuse. The flowers have pale-green sepals and cream petals with a staminal tube occasionally appear from January to April. Each fruit is about 6cm long and 2.5mm thick, matures from December to April. The seeds and leaves are used to treat fever and headache while the root extract is used to treat mental illness, leprosy, and syphilis [5]. A. indica (nim) is a tropical evergreen tree native to India. It grows well in Ghana, mostly in the Tamale metropolis. It is known as the ‘village pharmacy’ because of its healing versatility and medicinal properties. The seeds bark and leaves contain compounds with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antifungal uses [4]. Nim has a garlic-like odour and a bitter taste. A. Senegal, (acacia) from the family Fabaaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly Australia and Africa, where they are well known landmarks  the veld and savanna. Its distinctive leaves take the form of small finely divided leaflets that give the leafstalk a feathery appearance. They are also distinguished by their small often fragrant flowers which are arranged in compact cylindrical clusters. The flowers are usually yellow but occasionally white and have many stamens giving it a fuzzy appearance. This species are economically important as the bark is very rich in tannin, which is used in tanning and in dyes, inks, pharmaceuticals and other products [4]. A. digitata (baobab), the majestic baobab tree is an icon of the African continent and lies at the heart of many traditional African remedies and folklore. It grows in 32 African countries and can live for up to 5,000 years; grow up to 30 metres high and up to an enormous 50 metres in girth. The tree provides shelter, food and in some cases water for animals and humans. The bark can be tuned into rope and clothing, the seeds can be used to make cosmetic oils, the leaves are edible, and the fruit pulp is extraordinarily rich in nutrients [4]. Due to these economic importance and uses, the populace mostly harvests the branch, stem bark and the roots as shown in Fig. 1 which affect the health and growth of the studied species that leads to their eventual death. The objective of the study was to investigate human activities that cause most wounds and injuries to trees in the Tamale metropolis. 

This article is published in peer review journal and open access journal, International journal of research in engineering and innovation (IJREI) which have a high impact factor journal for more details regarding this article, please go through our journal website.

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