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Impact of mining and forest regeneration on small mammal biodiversity in the Western Region of Ghana

Attuquayefio, Daniel K., Owusu, Erasmus H., Ofori, Benjamin Y.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2017 v.189 no.5 pp. 237
Crocidura, Mastomys, Mus, Praomys, biodiversity, forest regeneration, forest reserves, forest restoration, habitat destruction, land degradation, land restoration, risk, small mammals, surface mining, topsoil, tropical rain forests, Ghana
Much of the terrestrial biodiversity in sub-Saharan Africa is supported by tropical rainforest. Natural resource development, particularly surface mining in the rainforest, poses great risks to the region’s rich and endemic biodiversity. Here, we assessed the impact of surface mining and the success of forest rehabilitation on small mammal diversity in the Western Region of Ghana. We surveyed small mammals in the project area and two adjoining forest reserves (control sites) before the mining operation and 10 years after mine closure and forest rehabilitation (topsoil replacement and revegetation). The forest reserves recorded higher species abundance than the mining areas. Majority of the species captured in the forest reserves, including Hylomyscus alleni, Praomys tullbergi, Malacomys cansdalei, and Hybomys trivirgatus, are forest obligate species. Only one individual each of H. alleni and P. tullbergi was captured in the naturally regenerated areas (core areas of mining activities that were allowed to revegetate naturally), while 32 individuals belonging to four species (Lophuromys sikapusi, Mus musculoides, Mastomys erythroleucus, and Crocidura olivieri) were recorded in the rehabilitated areas. Our data suggested negative effects of mining on small mammal diversity and the restoration of species diversity and important ecological processes after rehabilitation of altered habitats. We strongly encourage deliberate conservation efforts, particularly the development of management plans that require the restoration of degraded land resulting from mining activities.