Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, on Wednesday reaffirmed government's commitment to upgrade the Faculty of Forest Resource Technology (FFRT) of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Sunyani Campus into a fully fledged University of Energy and Natural Resources in Brong Ahafo.
Addressing students at the maiden annual homecoming of past students of the Faculty, he said it was still a priority of President John Evans Atta Mills to honour his campaign promise of establishing the university before the end of his tenure of office and asked them to exercise restraint.
The four-day programme being participated by more than 80 past students' nation-wide under the theme: “The Role of Government and Individuals in Greening Ghana” is to form an alumnus to augment government's effort to undertake development projects at the Faculty.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo noted that establishment of the university was very vital for the development of the Region, adding “available statistics indicates that about 800 years ago, Ghana had about 800 million hectares of forest reserve but has now been reduced to two million hectares.”
He attributed the problem mainly to negative practices and people's behaviour such as illegal tree felling, bushfires, irresponsible mining and encroachment of forest reserve.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo called on the law enforcement agencies to enforce forest conservation and preservation laws to keep the greening Ghana project on track.
Mr Joe R. Ackah, Brong Ahafo Regional Zonal Plantations Manager of Forestry Commission said about GH¢161,640 for the past two years had been disbursed to various agencies to pay for seedlings supplied, logistics and launching of the greening Ghana initiative, to create awareness on growing trees and management among the people.
He said so far, 4,600,000 tree seedlings including mango, cassia, teak and milletia had been supplied to individuals, churches and educational institutions for planting between 2007 and 2008.
Mr Ackah said challenges facing the initiative were non-protection of planted tree seedlings “against browsing animals”, improper care to tree seedlings at the nursery stage and called for greater involvement and participation of civil society organisations.
Mr Eric Amoadu Boateng, Student Representative Council (SRC) President said the Faculty would set up a campus radio station for education and dissemination of information to students and the public.
He said in addition, the SRC would solicit for funding for projects at the Faculty and appealed to management of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET Fund) to assist them with means of transport and building of a science laboratory.
Mr Boateng called on government to expedite action to upgrade the Faculty as University of Energy and Natural Resources to attain an autonomous status from KNUST.
Mr Anthony Agyapong, Assistant Registrar of the Faculty said lack of library facilities, internet connectivity, offices for staff and inadequate classrooms were some of the problems facing the Faculty and appealed to government, philanthropist and corporate bodies for assistance.
Mr William Baah, Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of Forest Services Division, urged the student to strive for success by being objective and innovative notwithstanding the problems confronting the Faculty to achieve their individual aims.