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12 September 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Arbor tree plant
To celebrate National Arbor Week the University of the Free State has embarked on a drive to plant 150 trees during the month of September

If you’ve wondered whether Arbor Month was important, you only have to look at the destruction and long-term damage that deforestation causes to the environment and the world’s inhabitants. To observe National Arbor Month, the University of the Free State’s has (UFS) kick-started a drive to plant 150 trees during the month of September.

To launch this initiative, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, alongside members of the rectorate, assisted the University Estates team in planting the first 10 of 100 trees at the Bloemfontein Campus on Wednesday 4 September 2019. A total of 50 trees will be planted on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Towards a sustainable future

“We have gone through periods of drought in the Free State that have severely impacted not only the plants but the trees on our campuses. The idea is to emphasise sustainability, and as a university, we believe that sustainability is important. As an education institution, we have to look at the generations that are still to come to our campuses,” said Prof Petersen.

He urged the Kovsie community to ensure that all practices across the campuses are linked to global standards of sustainability. “As we develop over the next couple of months and years, we will get much closer alignment between what we are doing as a university and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Drought-resistant man-made forests

Clusters of mini forests across the campuses will be created with a variety of trees including the karee, white karee, white stinkwood, and wild olive. These indigenous trees can adapt well to different soils including those that are poorly drained.

Celebrating Arbor Week

This year’s campaign was held under the theme Forests and Sustainable Cities. As part of the celebration, University Estates made a commitment to the environment by embarking on the green initiative which includes other project such as the upgrade of Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

NRF commits R30-million for research at the UFS
2007-02-20

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has committed approximately R30-million for various research projects at the University of the Free State (UFS).
 
According to Prof Frans Swanepoel, Director of Research Development at the UFS, the NRF has also approved all eight research niche areas that were submitted to the NRF, the highest number approved at any university in the country.
 
Prof Swanepoel said the 24 research projects for which funding had been obtained from the NRF ranged from traditional healing and HIV/Aids/tuberculosis management, practices of the paediatric anti-retroviral programme at the UFS to nano-materials synthesis and characterisation.
 
He said the eight research niche areas were part of an initiative at the UFS to establish strategic clusters of academic and research excellence.
 
“There will be six strategic academic clusters at the UFS and the eight NRF-approved research niche areas will form part of them,” Prof Swanepoel said.
 
The six strategic clusters are:
1.         Water management in water-scarce areas
2.         New frontiers in poverty reduction and sustainable development
3.         Social transformation in diverse societies
4.         Ecologically sound value chains for agricultural commodities
5.         Materials and nano sciences
6.         Advanced bio-molecular research
 
Prof Swanepoel said that the UFS had also submitted five proposals in terms of an NRF initiative to establish research chairs at South African universities.
 
“Linked to our intention to establish six strategic academic clusters, five proposals for the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARCHi) were submitted. All five pre-proposals were accepted in the first round of screening, and successful candidates have been invited to submit full proposals by the end of February,” he said.
 
The proposed research chairs are:
 
Petro- and organometallic chemistry
Biocatalytic and biomimetic oxidation-reduction systems
Nano-solid state lighting
People’s health and well-being
Water management
 
Speaking at the official opening of the university earlier this month, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, said: “The cluster initiative represents a strategic initiative to focus our energies in a few key areas, investing in them so that the UFS can become an international leader in those fields.”
 
“A medium sized university such as the UFS with relatively limited human, physical and financial resources has to achieve this kind of ‘critical mass’ and synergy to establish itself in terms of its core functions of teaching/learning, research and community engagement,” said Prof Fourie.
 
Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
20 February 2007

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