Nkawie (Ash), Aug 18, GNA - The agricultural science and environmental unit of the Atwima-Nwabiagya district education directorate has initiated a five-year tree planting and afforestation project involving 291 pre-tertiary institutions in the district. Dubbed: "Atwima School Pupils Project", it aims at making tree planting and afforestation vital components of agricultural and environmental education in schools and colleges in the area and seeks to plant more than 225,000 multi-purpose trees.
Mr. Akenten Osei-Wiafe, the former Ashanti Regional Agricultural Science and Environmental Co-ordinator, who initiated the project, told newsmen at Nkawie on Tuesday that each of the estimated 45,000 pupils and students in Nwabiagya and Mponua districts would plant and nurture at least five multi-purpose trees.
Mr Osei-Wiafe, who is currently working with the Ghana Cocoa Board at Bumso in the Eastern Region, said the project would demarcate and decorate 40 selected school compounds with multi-purpose tree species on pilot basis within the first two years.
The project, he said, would be replicated to cover the remaining 251 institutions for the next three years after the first phase, which ends in 2007.
Forty nurseries, he said, shall initially be established to raise 60,000 tree seedlings at the cost of 79.750 million cedis. He said labour shall be provided mainly by the pupils and students and supervised by the teachers with support from School Management Committee (SMC), Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and other stakeholders.
Mr Osei-Wiafe said the principal objective of the project was to introduce the pupils and students to tree nursery establishments, address school compound land and soil degradation problems, beautify school compounds and shield the infrastructure from rainstorms. It would also provide financial security to schools, demarcate the lands to check encroachment, serve as model sites to educate and train pupils and the public in managing the environment and its resources in a sustainable manner.
Mr Osei-Wiafe expressed concern about the rate at which the environment is being degraded and depleted and stressed the need for the youth and other meaningful persons to engage in tree planting and afforestation to address the problem.
Atwima, which covers an area of 1,350.47 square kilometres and inhabited by 215,147 people according to the 2000 national population census, lies within the forest ecozones with six large forest reserves that are currently under siege by encroachers.