Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Division of Forestry and Natural Resources
Peace Corps was started in the 1960s by President John F. Kennedy. Ghana was one of the first established host countries that received Peace Corps Volunteers. There are five different sectors that volunteers can work in education, health, agriculture, environment, or community and economic development. Peace Corps service begins with ten weeks of pre-service training before volunteers swear in and are placed in communities throughout the country. Training covers topics such as global Peace Corps policy, health and security concerns, local language, and technical skills. I was placed in a small, rural community in the Northern Region of Ghana. My projects focused on food security, such as growing orange flesh sweet potatoes and building a community garden. Peace Corps service came with many challenges, but the relationships I built with my community and my cohort were invaluable.
As part of my service and my graduate studies, I interviewed farmers in northern Ghana about their perceptions of the effect of bush burning on agriculture and wildlife in the area. Fires are a key aspect of savanna ecology, but current anthropogenic uses of bush burning are causing soil degradation and a decrease in food security in northern Ghana. We interviewed 87 farmers on their bush burning behavior to determine if demographic factors influenced the reasoning behind farmers bush burning practices. Interviews took place in ten communities across the Northern Region using Barrier Analysis Surveys. Results were both quantitative and qualitative. Data analysis was conducted using logistic regression modeling. The number of participants categorized as burners or non-burners were modeled using demographic information and participants’ perceptions of the effects of bush burning. Models were selected based on △AICc and weight. We were able to determine some of the motivations people had to practice or not practice bush burning. Motivations to avoid bush burning included the perceived severity of its effects on agriculture and wildlife, the perceived lack of effectiveness, perceived negative consequences, and access to tools and materials. Motivations to use bush burning included perceived effectiveness and perceived positive consequences. We were also able to determine participants’ perceptions of the effects of bush burning on their farms and for wildlife. Participants noted a variety of negative consequences such as impacts to crop yield, income, soil fertility, and erosion as well as some positive consequences such as benefits to seed germination and ease of use to clear land for farming. Participants also provided some strategies to discourage the use of bush burning. Providing better access to conservation agriculture education and punishing those caught bush burning could discourage people from and therefore potentially increase their household’s income and food security.
Wilson, Caitlin A., "Perceived Effects of Bush Burning on Agriculture and Wildlife Resources in Ghana" (2020). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7829.