Green Area Mapping of ABU Zaria Main Campus Using Remote Sensing and GIS (Report)

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By Idowu Innocent Abbas and Yetunde Adedoyin Arigbede

The provision of a quality learning environment is crucial to staff and students of any university. One of the most important parameters in the planning and design of the campus is the appropriate selection of land surface to develop green areas. This study identified and mapped land use-land cover distribution with emphasis on green area networks in Ahmadu Bello University’s main campus, Samaru, Zaria, Nigeria.

Linkages are key characteristics of green area and are formed by natural or man-made structures such as roads, pedestrian walkways, drainage ways, and lake corridors. The study used Geo eye satellite image of the study area for 2009 to generate the land use land cover and the green area coverage for future planning and monitoring and how they related to space on the campus.

Green area covered a total of 618.57 ha (29%), commercial area covered 21.3 ha (1%), administrative area covered 42.66 ha (2%), academic area covered 319.95 ha (15%), recreational area covered 21.3 ha (1%) and open spaces accounted for 1109.16 ha (52%). The study also revealed that there was no particular order in which the green area within the campus was arranged.


The provision of quality living and learning settings is crucial for staff and students on university campuses. Buildings and roads are essential infrastructures to ensure safety, security, and comfort to the campus users. In as much, the green area also plays a crucial role in a healthy and responsive working and learning environment.

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Green area network is greenery and interconnected open spaces formed by treed streets, waterways and drainage ways around and between urban areas, at all spatial scales where people can use it to reach places of work or study (Toccolini, 2006). Campus green area is composed of treed streets, walkways, drainage ways, lake corridors and trails (Benedine and Adamu, 2007). Green area network also connects and organizes every fragmented open space

Green area network also connects and organizes every fragmented open space or building as well as facilitates the movement of people in and around campus under safe and comfortable conditions in natural settings. Green area allows campus residents to undergo their daily activities such as walking, jogging, biking, experiencing nature, watching people, meeting friends, displaying artworks and many more.

According to Tzoulas ( 2007), on campus, it can be greenery that promotes a healthy society. This means greenery and open spaces are not just amenities but also an interconnected network of ecological systems that conserve air, water, microclimate, energy resources and enrich the human quality of life.

Tolley (1996) suggested that students might prefer a university with a vast green area as a conducive place to study. Campus greening is one of the approaches taken to achieve environmentally good campus through improving and maintaining all the landscape elements in campus as well as other recreational facilities (Habib and Ismaila, 2008).

Campus green area network can be an instrument for greening a campus by connecting every open space with other spaces, as an alternative route to facilitate user movement and social space for community integration in comfortable and pleasant settings (Conine, 2004; Tan, 2004). Green area networks on campus may also offer an opportunity to preserve the remnant green spaces that are almost disappearing from campus scenes due to physical developmental pressure.

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Over the past decades, with the uncertainty in future campus development, it is anticipated that universities will continue to add new buildings and facilities in their campuses to accommodate more students with an increase in faculty and staff. According to Lim (2006), the campus is growing each year with the enrolment of new students; more space will be needed to accommodate h o s t e l s, road signage for managing traffic flows, new schools for new courses as well as parking space.

Turner (1984) explained that the uncertainty in the student’s enrolment was complicated as the university is changing in unpredictable ways. This turns the campus into a clog development area. Speculatively, the green area network organizes the site planning of the buildings, open spaces and road systems as well as the structuring community (Khalid, 2006).

It means that the network enables the campus planners to create a quality physical environment that provides conducive milieu for working and learning as well as establishes identity to the institution (Dober, 2000).

Simultaneously, the planning of the network maximizes non-vehicular travel which emphasizes the planning of integral pedestrian routes. In other words, the green network connects one cluster of buildings and spaces to another that facilitates users’ interaction with ease and safe under shaded and pleasant conditions

The green areas in the study area are not comprehensively mapped and planned. The master plan focused on administrative and socio-economic components of campus planning and less on the environmental component thus there are no policies to guide the encroachment of the green areas by other land uses which has led to green area decimation in some parts of the University.

It is in line with this that the study decided to identify and map the green areas and see how they network to be of importance to learning in the study area using the techniques of remote sensing and geographic information systems.

Remote sensing and geographical information system give more precise and up to date data on the extent, area coverage and spatial distribution of green areas for future planning and policy formulation. This, therefore, necessitated the aim of this research to identify and map green area networks for future planning and monitoring.

By this, the study identified and mapped the land uses and land covers on the Ahmadu Bello University main campus, Samaru, Zaria and also looked at the green area network and connectivity for future campus planning in relation to its physical characteristic and spatial distribution.

The green area on campus may become a communal space because it offers an opportunity to congregate and communicate through simple greetings and smiling (Bischoff, 1995). Flood plains and areas where drainage problem exists are normally expensive to develop and can be controlled by prohibiting development around them through green belt reservations (Wong, 2007).

A campus is a unique place with a distinctive community with green spaces such as streets, squares, amphitheaters, courtyards, small gardens, and lakes. It also accommodates buildings such as student centers, offices, halls, childcare facilities, shops, and sports arena.

The activities conducted in and around these buildings, physically and socially occur throughout the day (Balsas, 2003) and consequently the campus tends to suffer from the pressure of development in order to cope with the rapid emergence of communities demand their facilities and amenities. Habib and Ismaila (2008) explained that campus sustainability has become a global issue among university administrators, policymakers, planners as well as stakeholders.

Balsas (2003) t h us suggested that the development for campus infrastructure should be provided or maintained without jeopardizing the quality of the campus environment. In recent times many universities have gone through many physical changes. Inevitably, the campus is losing its green spaces due to the increasing need for more spaces for parking, new buildings and campus housing area (Balsas, 2003).

In the National University of Singapore, Wong (2007) found that there are hot and cool spots in many parts of the campus. By using a thermal satellite image, the cool spot indicated by the green color, which means that the area is highly vegetated and yellowish color, indicates a hot spot, which means the area, has less or no vegetation.


The study also noted that the temperature differences between these two areas are as high as 4°C in the afternoon and 3.3°C at midnight. Clear indication, that greenery plays an important role in keeping the campus microclimate comfortable and gives more benefits for user outdoor activities.

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Study area Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria was founded in 1962 from 3 previously independent institutions; the Nigerian College of Arts, science and technology, Institute of Administration in Tudun Wada area of Zaria, and the Regional Research station of the Ministry of Agriculture now the Institute for Agricultural Research.


Ahmadu Bello University though situated in Samaru, Zaria in the Sabon Gari Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It is located on latitude 11° 15’N to 11°3’N of the equator and longitude 7° 30’E to 7°45’E of Greenwich Meridian. Figure 1 shows the location of the study area within the Sabon Gari local government.


The study used the Geo eye satellite image of 2009 covering Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that was sourced from at a scale of 10 m. The image was downloaded into the GIS environment.

The analysis was done using two different software namely:
A) ILWIS 2.2 – this was used for displaying and subsequent processing and enhancement of the image.
B) ArcGIS 10– This was also used to complement the display and processing of the data, database design and analysis using a structured query language (SQL) for data query.


Spatial distribution of land use – land cover This involves the identification of the various land uses and land covers from the satellite image. The statistics and the map are as shown in Table 1 and Figures 2 and 3, respectively. Table 1 shows the area coverage of the various land uses and land cover in hectares and percentages.


Green area covers a total of 618.57 ha (29%), commercial area 21.3 ha (1%), administrative area covers 42.66 ha (2%), academic area covers 319.95 ha (15%), recreational area covers 21.3 ha (1%) and open spaces account for 1109.16 ha (52%). Figure 3 shows the spatial location of green areas and connectivity between the various green areas within the campus.


Figure 4 shows how the green area network cuts through the campus as against other land uses-land covers as represented in percentages. This was done to map green areas and determine how much landmass is consumed in hectares by the green areas and their greenway networks connect.

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Role of green area in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria main campus

Green areas are of great benefit to the university community and its environment. They filter pollutants and dust from the air, they provide shade and lower temperatures, and they even reduce erosion of soil into our waterways. Other benefits of green area in ABU Zaria main campus include:

Water quality protection: Proper landscaping reduces nitrate leaching from the soil into the water supply and reduces surface water runoff, keeping phosphorus and other pollutants out of our waterways and preventing septic system overload.

Reduced heat build-up: Trees in parking lots reduce on-site heat build-up, decrease runoff and enhance night time cool downs.

Reduced soil erosion: A dense cover of plants and mulch holds soil in place, keeping sediment out of storm drains and road and also reduces flooding and dust storms.

Improve air quality: Trees, shrubs, and turf remove smoke, dust and other pollutants from the air. One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, equalling 11,000 miles of car emissions. By using trees to modify temperatures, the amount of fossil fuels used for cooling and heating is reduced. Properly placed deciduous trees reduce building temperatures in warmer months, allowing air conditioning units to run 2 to 4% more efficiently. The trees also allow the sun to warm the buildings in the cooler months.

Natural resource conservation: By leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing, the clippings quickly decompose and release valuable nutrients back into the soil to feed the grass, reducing the need for nitrogen by 25 to 50%. Modern mulching lawnmowers make “grasscycling” even easier and mowers can reduce their mowing time by 30 to 40% by not having to bag clippings.

Rainfall retention: A healthy, lawn absorbs rainfall 6 times more effectively than a wheat field and 4 times better than a hayfield. It provides an attractive setting for both workers and students, thereby contributing to the social, environmental and economic well-being of individuals.


The study was able to generate location-based information as regards to exact position and distribution of the green areas on Ahmadu Bello University’s main campus, which shows that the green area was not evenly distributed in the study area as a result of poor planning or non-adherence to the master plan.

The employment of green area network mapping may result in sustainable land use management and proper utilization of inherent natural resources. The integrated approach of remote sensing and GIS techniques provides the major tool in the evaluation of all attributes of a green area and its planning.

The proper understanding of these attributes (treed streets, recreational, open space) provides the necessary information in the detection of a problem, policy formulation, and proffering solution to manage the rising student population within the university campus.

The study further emphasizes the importance of remote sensing and GIS in spatial analysis and planning and the benefits accruable to efficient green area networks on campuses.

This study was carried out by Idowu Innocent Abbas and Yetunde Adedoyin Arigbede from the Department of Geography, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Corresponding author. E-mail:

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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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One thought on “Green Area Mapping of ABU Zaria Main Campus Using Remote Sensing and GIS (Report)

  • March 6, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I love the Greenland of ABU. It is simply the greenest university in the country

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