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Opinions Wed, 26 Jul 2017

Tree planting should be a subject area in education of builders

Tree planting should be introduced as one of the subjects taught to Building, Architecture and Civil Engineering students if we want it to be deemed and treated as an important part of our development.

With the ever increasing rate of deforestation, changes in rainfall pattern and the world's decision to enforce the Paris Treaty, which Ghana is a signatory, one of the ways we can continue to maintain the kind of environment conducive for our continuous existence and quality of air we breathe is to keep trees alive and aplenty.

Unfortunately, trained builders and developers of our environment don’t study tree planting in detail at any level of their education as builders. This explains why tree planting is not treated with the seriousness it deserves when it comes to building in this country.

With tree planting as a subject area, our Building and Architecture Engineers will have in-depth knowledge on how to plant trees, where to plant which tree and the ideal time to plant these trees. Sometimes the position of the tree and distance from the building can have negative repercussions on the building in the future. A lot goes into tree planting therefore if not formalized, a lot of mistakes would crop up.

The existence of trees, walks hand-in-hand with the existence of the human race. I hope you remember the popular saying that ‘When the last tree dies, the last man dies.’

Since I started my real estate business for the past eighteen years, I have tried my best to plant not less than 20,000 trees within the three different environments I have built. My company has also hosted not less a hundred students on attachment and countless as full-time workers since its inception.

What is common among all these people is that they lacked requisite knowledge on what goes into tree planting: something I had to learn outside the four walls of the classroom.

I have also seen many works of our competitors within the industry and I can conclude without any reservation that about 90 percent of the players lack the basic knowledge on tree planting.

Over the years I have listened and admired one man, Nana Dzomoh Sarpong on his lonely journey of protecting our water bodies and other individuals who have dedicated their lives to one cause or the other. I believe his call played a key role in government’s decision to fight illegal mining with all the state’s accoutrements.

Currently, my company is hosting three students on attachment from one of the technical universities and I have found out that they know very little about tree planting. This is what moved me to write this piece

These are people being trained to build our environment therefore, we have to make it a point to make them competent in tree planting.

Tree planting should not end at advocacy: it should be a law, a subject and mandatory part for every building project. It must be enforced in the approval of buildings and its physical absence should result in fines and discontinuation of building until the right thing is done. Evidence of planted trees should be seen when the Assembly visits the project site.

As a country, we cannot sit aloof and leave the planting of trees in the hands of Civil Society Organisations alone - it must be made a national agenda, it must be forced and enforced. In this day of global warming and inconsistencies in the atmospheric conditions, we need trees to safeguard our very existence. Trees enrich the oxygen we breathe. Science has proven that trees provide oxygen for humans after absorbing the carbon dioxide in the environment.

The existence of trees also means that the atmosphere will be cooler and encourage energy conservation because it is the absence of cold wind that has led many people to use high energy consuming air conditioners in their rooms. If trees are planted all over, many people will put off their air conditioners and enjoy the breeze.

Rarely do you see roofs in areas with many trees ripped off by storms. It is uncommon because trees protect the building by absorbing a substantial part of the pressure from the wind. Additionally, trees protect our environment from erosion.

Trees bring beauty and the feel of nature to the environment and therefore should be a key addition to modern Ghana.

In view of the above points, making it a subject area will send the signal that we are truly committed to this as a nation. Builders should be trained to have comprehensive knowledge on matters of the environment because they design and build our environment.

Aside that, government should make it mandatory for every house to have at least a tree planted in the house with sanctions for refusal to comply. This will definitely underline our commitment to protecting the environment in the face of global warming and make our signing of the Paris Treaty not just for the sake of it but a cause we are truly committed to.

We cannot bequeath an environment worse than we met it to the next generation. I hope someone is listening.

Columnist: Kofi Anokye