ESSIC Faculty Assistant Abigail Barenblitt is first author on a new paper in Science of the Total Environment titled “The large footprint of small-scale artisanal gold mining in Ghana”.
Gold mining has been a prevalent part of Ghana’s economy for centuries. While industrial mining has been subject to varied regulation, unregulated and illegal artisanal mining, or Galamsey, has escalated in recent years. Many artisanal mines are harmful to human health and terrestrial ecosystems as they degrade and destroy the region’s forested ecosystems. In this study, the researchers used Landsat image archive available through Google Earth Engine to quantify the total footprint of vegetation loss due to artisanal gold mines in Ghana from 2005-2019 and understand how conversion of forested regions to mining has changed over a decadal period from 2007-2017.
They found that approximately 47000 ha (⨦2218 ha) of vegetation were converted to mining at an average rate of ~2600 ha yr-1. The high percentage of this mining occurred between 2014 and 2017. Around 700 ha of this mining occurred within protected areas as mapped by the World Database of Protected Areas. This work expands upon limited research into the spatial footprint of Galamsey in Ghana, complements mapping efforts by local geographers, and will support efforts by the government of Ghana to monitor deforestation caused by artisanal mining.
To access the article, click here: “The large footprint of small-scale artisanal gold mining in Ghana”.