Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Keta Lagoon lies in the far south-east of the country, near the international frontier with Togo. The lagoon is an extensive, brackish water-body situated to the east of the Volta river estuary. The site comprises the open water of the lagoon and the surrounding flood-plains and mangrove swamps. Although considered to be an open lagoon, it is effectively closed for most of the year. The area of open water varies with the season, but is estimated to be c.30,000 ha, stretching for c.40 km along the coast and separated from the sea by a narrow ridge. Inflow into the lagoon is from three main sources: from the Todzie river (which enters and fills the neighbouring Avu lagoon in wet years and overflows into Keta lagoon via several small tributaries), from the Aka and Belikpa streams (which enter Keta lagoon directly from the north) and, to a limited extent, from the Volta river itself. The construction of the Akosombo Dam, upstream on the Volta river, has been blamed for a number of ecological changes which have occurred within the wetland in the recent past, including silting and blockage of the channels that interconnect the numerous lagoons. This is believed to have affected the natural drainage pattern such that large areas of the lagoon and marshlands dry up in the dry season and serious flooding now occurs in the wet season. The lagoon is bordered by numerous settlements and the surrounding flood-plain consists of marsh, scrub, farmland and substantial mangrove stands, which are heavily exploited for fuelwood. Occupational activities include lagoon fishing, salt extraction and crop farming.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Keta lagoon is the most important wetland on the Ghanaian coast for waterbirds and, together with neighbouring Songor (GH036), constitutes the fourth most important waterbird site on the Gulf of Guinea coast. Some 76 waterbird species, with estimated maximum numbers well over 100,000 birds, have been recorded. Other species which occur in large numbers include Dendrocygna viduata, Himantopus himantopus, Calidris ferruginea and C. minuta as well as several heron and egret species. The most important parts of the lagoon for waterbirds are the Fiahor, Woe, Tegbi, Adina and Afiadenyigba sections.

Non-bird biodiversity: Small numbers of three species of marine turtles, Lepidochelys olivacea, Chelonia mydas and Dermochelys coriacea (all EN), nest along the beach.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Keta Lagoon was designated a Ramsar Site under the Ghana Coastal Wetlands Management Project, but this is not, as yet, backed up by any national legislation. The catchment is huge, the human population density in the area is one of the highest in the country, land for settlement in coastal areas is scarce and pollution from domestic waste in some of the villages is a major cause for concern. Another major threat is coastal erosion, which continues to eat away at Keta township and other villages on the coastal strip at an alarming rate. A sea defence project, aimed at reducing the rate of erosion, also proposes to reclaim parts of the lagoon for human settlement. Conservation efforts and management interventions should concentrate on those parts of the lagoon supporting important waterbird populations, in addition to addressing some of the anthropological issues in the larger catchment area.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site. Downloaded from on 06/02/2023.