University in the forest: KNUST still greening

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
The entrance leading to the KNUST campus in Kumasi is characterised by a beautiful vegetation cover. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH
The entrance leading to the KNUST campus in Kumasi is characterised by a beautiful vegetation cover. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH

One of the greatest images on the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is the conglomeration of trees that provide an amazing canopy in a combination of natural and built environment.

On entering the campus, one is greeted with the refreshing ambience of a ‘university in the forest’.

Apart from its academic excellence, which the university guards with jealousy, another unique thing on which the institution places premium is environmental protection, which dates back to the time when the then Asantehene, Otumfuo Sir
Osei Agyeman Prempeh II (1931–1970) gave out a vast tract of virtually virgin forest for the establishment of the first university in Kumasi.

Over the years, the greenery of the total land area of about 13 square kilometres has fiercely been preserved, while new trees are planted for the benefit of future generations.

There is a policy which consistently encourages the university community to pay particular attention to its environment.

Aesthetics

With an enormous deal of green space and extraordinary commitment to sustainability, KNUST’s organic environment — the trees and the green grass and the way they are immaculately maintained — typifies the aesthetic standard that has kept the institution as a bastion of environmental friendliness.

There are economic, as well as medicinal, trees, some of which are used for teaching purposes.

Green Ghana

The management of the university has a vision to keep the campus environmentally friendly and super serene for teaching and learning.

Therefore, since the launch of the government’s Green Ghana Project on June 11, this year, the university, in spite of its green environment, has not stayed back.

In response to the Green Ghana Project, KNUST has so far planted 6,000 tree seedlings (2,000 on the main campus and 4,000 on its virgin land at Anwomaso, which is earmarked for another campus).

“We are taking the Green Ghana Project very seriously. As you look around, the university is beautifully green, but we continue to plant more trees,” the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Prof. Ellis Owusu-​Dabo, told the Daily Graphic in Kumasi last Saturday.



One student, one tree

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson, led staff and students to plant 2,000 trees at the Prince of Wales Park, KNUST, and other sites on campus on June 11, in an exercise dubbed: ‘One student, One tree’, which was supported by Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, an environmental non-for-profit organisation which donated 1,000 seedlings.

“We supported the university in that important exercise because we believe that KNUST is a good example of what commitment to the environment is all about,” the President of Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, Nana Dwomoh Sarpong, said.

Supporting learning

The Pro Vice-Chancellor said: “We want an environment that supports learning. Our philosophy is to become an ecological teaching and learning hub”.

He said the university’s tree planting activities were intensified during the tenure of the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso, which practice was being continued by the current Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dickson.

Prof. Obiri-Danso, as part of his effort to improve the aesthetic beauty of the campus, also collaborated with Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies to plant over 2,000 tree seedlings of various species on the campus.
Significantly, the seedlings that were planted have been well nurtured.

The Students Representative Council (SRC) had equally engaged in the planting of trees on the campus.

On October 20, 2019, the SRC organised its biggest tree planting exercise as part of its special initiatives, with the trees being nurtured.

Filling spaces

The KNUST believes that it still has open spaces that must have vegetative cover.

“Naturally, some of the trees will die, and because of the long period it takes trees to grow, we believe we have to plant consistently,” the University Relations Officer (URO), Dr Daniel Norris Bekoe, told the Daily Graphic.

He was of the belief that life could be better with trees, saying that given the adverse effects of global warming, creating a serene atmosphere for teaching and learning was the way to go.

“So, as you go round the campus, you see students sitting under trees studying,” Dr Bekoe said.

Community rules

“Every member of the university community is encouraged to protect the environment, and for that reason no one is allowed to cut trees in the university. Even when a tree branch obstructs someone in his house, the person cannot cut it because the rule is that you have to invite the estate department to come and prune.

“There is a special budget for the maintenance of the university environment.

“We have all kinds of species for teaching and learning, especially botany and herbal medicine. Now herbal medicine has become part of the health medicine and so we plant medicinal trees,” Dr Bekoe said.

According to the URO, anytime people visited the campus, one conspicuous thing that hit them was the green environment.

“Many Ambassadors and High Commissioners who have come here have been amazed at the way we keep the environment. They are thrilled by how we keep the environment and the amazing infrastructure,” he said.