World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue

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WOSSAC Material held in the Archive for Ghana

GhanaThe WOSSAC catalogue lists almost 260 entries for Ghana which includes unique material dating from pre-independence: the oldest documents in the Ghana corpus of documents dates from the late 1940s. Some of this legacy material is directly related to natural resources and the early cultivation of cocoa in the then Gold Coast, including a 1949 Gold Coast atlas. Other documents held has only indirect natural resource interest such as geophyscial and geological material, some general agronomic documents, and a collection of topographic maps. Most notable of these early documents are two items dating for 1948 and 1949, which describe soils appropriate for cocoa. An examination of the specific pedological items suggests a grouping of the documents into the following:

  • early items reports and surveys which were completed pre-independence in early 1957;
  • items which are representative of project surveys completed prior to development initiatives mostly in the 1960s and 1970s;
  • several items which reports of forestry and geological and overviews of the agricultural potential and which are national in scope, and;
  • many topographic maps.

Specific reports mentioned have the WOSSAC (ID) as a hotlink in brackets.

Early collection of documents and maps for Ghana

One of the outstanding documents in the WOSSAC collection is an archive of papers from a pioneer soil surveyor, Stanley Radwanski, dating from 1956-just prior to independence. At that time the Gold Coast, Department of Soil and Land Use Survey, was active and generated reports such as this volume on the Tano Basin (ID 26, and ID 208). Other valuable reports from this period include surveys from Hugh Brammer in 1955, the Kpong Pilot Irrigation Project(ID7). There are two documents from the 1940: An Atlas of the Gold Coast dated 1949 (ID 40911); and a valuable report of Cocoa soils (ID 26211), which is entitled 'Cocoa soils: Good and Bad'. An Introduction to the Soils of the Forest regions of West Africa. There are also some regional reconnaissance surveys such as (ID 12), of the Accra Plains by Hugh Brammer, dated to 1967. A 1954 document is a detailed soil report on the soils of the Kumasi College of technology (ID 26202)

Documents and Mapping related to Specific Irrigation Projects

These surveys are reports linked to development projects, mostly irrigation work in the period after independent Ghana was founded and up to the late 1970s. Specific areas are:

  • reports centred on the Accra Plains including land assessments by Japanese companies. This area has attracted attention from an early Brammer report in 1956;
  • the Lower Volta River Flood Plain Surveys;
  • a Land and Water Survey in the Northern Regions;
  • the Kpong irrigation development, and;
  • And the Weija and Aveyime irrigation schemes.

A number of consultancies have contributed reports to this archive for Ghana including documents which relate to work carried out within or in advance of irrigation development by companies such as -Hunting Technical Service and MacDonald Engineering of Cambridge. These project reports often contain detailed soil information and are accompanied by maps, such as the work of Ablorn, published in 1961, which includes a map at a scale of 1:40,000, (ID 308), in the Lower Volta Plains. Other documents are land use specific such as a 1976 report on oil palm project sites carried out for the Commonwealth Development Corporation in the Twifo locality (ID 392). Later work held in the archive includes materials from the 1980s on an update of the feasibility for the Accra Plains irrigation project (ID 3823). There exist some eight reports from this investigation.

Material which is National in Scope

Forestry documentation is well represented in the WOSSAC collection for Ghana and includes the Rural Forestry project in the early 1990s; a number of geological reports; and agricultural potential assessments of Ghana from the 1990s.

Loose maps

The collection also holds about 90 loose maps (scale 1:50,000) of Ghana: none of which are of direct pedological interest, being topographical etc in nature.

Historical Soil Surveys of Ghana- Tano River Basin

A recent acquisition by WOSSAC is a large fragile document which is a record of a draft Final Report for the Upper Tano Basin in what was then the Gold Coast, now Ghana. This survey formed part of a systematic effort to survey the soils of Ghana, using the river basis as the unit of survey.

The survey was carried out in the 1950s, by a team including: R Hamilton, M Scott, S.A Radwanski and P. M. Ahn. This document (ID 24489), which is marked as a draft Part 1, is typewritten on foolscap sized paper and unbound. Presently the document has a hard cover with pages attached only by treasury tags. Unfortunately there are no maps. The document is fragile.

The dates noted for the survey begin in 1951 with a rapid preliminary assessment, and the survey then moved to more detailed work later that year and continued until November 1954. The area is located in the south west of Ghana and is concerned with the Upper Tano basin only. The Tano River drains to the sea close to the border with Cote D’Ivoire. This document is therefore complementary to later full and final reports for the Lower Tano Basin published in 1961, by the Soil and Land–Use Survey Branch of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the newly independent Ghana. The author of these 1961 documents is Peter Ahn. Duplicate copies of this document are held within WOSSAC (ID 395 and ID 41758). There seems to be no final report for the Upper Basin, or at least a copy is not held currently by WOSSAC.

The Tano Upper Basin survey follows the traditional approach with comprehensive notes on the climate, including temperature and rainfall data, the geology, water resources, and vegetation. Soils are grouped into two major associations each with a number of series. The total number of series described is ten. Charts classify these series across to the FAO soil system. The document includes abundant laboratory data sheets. A section on the land–use is especially valuable as there is a record of the condition and species composition of seven forest reserves. Reference is made to land use maps but these are not included within this document.

These surveys are of interest as they began under the Gold Coast colonial administration and were completed following independence in 1957. They provide valuable historic climatic and land use information, in addition to a comprehensive description of the soils. The disappointment is the lack of maps for this Upper Basin work.


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