A forest-focused Tour by students at the Department of Atmospheric and Climate Science (DACS) of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) to the Carbon Flux Measurement Station at Bia-Tano Forest Reserve has shed light on carbon sequestration, carbon footprint, and climate change mitigation courses at the university.

The tour of 70 students including lecturers, students, and teaching assistants emphasised the importance of forests in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and their role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Bia-Tano Forest Reserve now hosts Ghana's only operational eddy-flux tower rising above the forest canopy. The 56-meter-tall tower monitors the exchange of greenhouse gases between the atmosphere and the forest ecosystem, allowing scientists to precisely determine the carbon sink capacity within such a tropical Ghanaian moist semi-deciduous forest.

This is regarded as one of the critical nature-based solutions for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of mitigating global warming.

The activity of the Bia Tano Forest Station is expected to shed light on carbon cycling in this kind of ecosystem in Africa and, more generally, on the ecological feedback of tropical forests with respect to climate change.

The one-day educational tour served as a pivotal component of DACS' commitment to practical teaching methodologies, enriching the comprehension of theoretical subjects such as Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation.

It also played a crucial role in illustrating the vital role of forests in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the hands-on experience gained by participants is expected to greatly enhance their academic and research capabilities, aligning with the department's dedication to practical and impactful learning.

The interactive sessions with onsite researchers offered valuable insights into cutting-edge research initiatives conducted at the facility.

Senior lecturer at the Department of Atmospheric and Climate Science (DACS), Dr. Caleb Mensah highlighted that the tour facilitated an understanding of theoretical concepts taught in the classroom, effectively bridging the gap between academic teaching and real-world application.

Dr. Mensah further emphasized that the tour was a resounding success, significantly enriching the learning experience for participants and reinforcing the practical teaching ethos of DACS-UENR.

“It provided valuable exposure to real-world applications of atmospheric and climate science, particularly in the context of forest ecosystems and their role in mitigating climate change,” he indicated.

Among the faculty members who participated in the tour were Dr. Nana Agyemang Prempeh, the Head of Department, along with Dr. Naomi Kumi, Dr. Richard Kyere-Boateng, Dr. Frederick Otu-Larbi and, the Forest Guard, Rev. James Nabil.

Each lecturer emphasized the importance of students visiting practical centers to acquire hands-on field knowledge in addition to classroom learning, thus equipping them with essential skills for the job market.

Responding to a student question about the annual carbon dioxide absorption capacity of an average tree, Dr. Out-Larbi clarified that the quantity of carbon dioxide sequestered by trees varies due to various factors such as weather conditions, air pollutants, soil moisture, and soil nutrients.

He indicated that, on average, a mature tree absorbs around 25kg of carbon dioxide annually, roughly equivalent to the weight of a standard bag of rice.

“The value ranges between 10 and 40kg of CO2 per year, depending on the factors listed above, as well as the type of tree,” he further emphasized.

The participating students shared their enthusiasm for the experience and expressed their desire for more opportunities like this to deepen their understanding and application of the knowledge gained at the university.

Aboagye-Asare Abigail, a level 400 student, expressed her excitement about visiting the forest for the first time and witnessing the use of various instruments, such as the modern Stevenson screen, an anemometer, and a rain gauge, for measuring climate variables like temperature, precipitation, and wind speed.

She described the experience as enlightening and enriching, providing her with valuable insights into the practical aspects of climate science.

“I saw how the data is sent from the dish through the receiver onto the desktop and also I learnt that the tower collects data every 10 seconds but average 30 minutes data is used for the analysis,” Abigail said.

Similar to many others who visited the forest, Abigail expressed her intention to initiate a campaign aimed at educating her peers and parents about the significance of forests and their impact on the environment.

She recognised the importance of raising awareness about the important role forests play in maintaining ecological balance and providing numerous benefits to the environment.

Adomako Ankamah Ransford, a level 400 student, noted how his lecturers measure the Bia-Tano Forests' contribution to carbon sequestration from the atmosphere using the "eddy-covariance" approach.

This experience has offered him valuable insights into assessing the capacity of trees to absorb carbon, as well as discerning the disparity in carbon sequestration abilities between forests, plantations, and urban vegetation.

“I hold a solemn pledge to educate individuals who see the forests as only a source of livelihood and to enlighten them on the adverse impacts of cutting down the very forests that have the highest potential for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere,” Adomako pledged.

Dr. Mensah said there are plans to establish an automatic weather station at DACS to enhance students’ knowledge.

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