Sunday, June 25, 2017 | ePaper

Continuous encroachment of adjacent lands

Bio-diversity in Sundarbans threatened

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Ahsanul Amin George,  Khulna :
Biodiversity in the Sundarbans has been facing a great threat as some influential land pirates have been grabbing lands adjacent to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and also the largest world heritage site, declared by the UNESCO.
Sundarbans, the largest contiguous patch of Mangrove Forest in the world, constitutes 51 percent of the total reserved Forest estate and is also the richest natural resources of Bangladesh. Around 6  lacs persons are dependent upon the Sundarbans.
Population growth and economic development have brought immense pressure on mangrove wealth and its system for firewood, timber, fishes, honey and thatching materials. About 6 lacs people directly or indirectly depended on the resources of Sundarbans in a network of numerous Sundary and big streams and creeks in the adverse bioclimatic of mangrove forests infested with fierce wild animals-tiger in land and crocodile in water struggling for Survival. The forest department with the aid of EU fund through Seals project is initiative for diverting the minds of such Sundarbans independent people to the alternative way. Three NGOS named world vision, concern worldwide and Relief international EU funded NGO are working in the Sundarbans for developing alternative livelihoods for Sundarbans Reserved Forest (SRF) dependent households.
 NGOs are working by formation of community groups, conservation education, identifying SRF dependent households, skill development and vocational training of the community groups and awareness, children access to educational institution and community members to health clinic and water/sanitation services and women rehabilitation through farm activities.
It is found in  Joymonirghole area that women are rearing poultry with the aid of the seals project the male persons, of course are still engaged in fishing.
Some problems are found while visiting the Sundarbans .Among them- manpower shortage inadequate transport facilities inside the Sundarbans, very poor  accommodation facilities for officer/staffs, Scarcity of fresh and pure drinking water, lack of health care facility and no suitable place or environment for living in the reason the staffs have to maintain two families one is in their village home and the other is for their own purposes inside the Sundarbans. Forest Staffs, Particularly the forest guards are living inhuman lives in the Sundarbans. No Smiling face was found  during the visit as they have not paid any risk allowance or other related forest allowance.
Sundarbans has considerably high floral diversity and about 334 plant Species in total. Among them Sundari, Keora, Bean, Passur, Kankra, Goran, Golpata, Singra, Bhola, Hental, Khulshi and Gewa are most Common.
There are more than 375 wild life species in SRF which include 35 reptiles, 315 birds and 42 mammals. The major wildlife in Sundarbans are the Royal Bengal Tiger, Spotted deer, Wild Boan, Monkey, Estuarine crocodile, python, Turtle, Dolphin, Otter, Jungle, Cast, Fishing cat and a Variety of bird species.
It  may be mentioned in this connection that the UNESCO World Heritage committee declared Sundarbans as its 798th heritage site on the 6th December 1997 under the categories (ii) and (iv) of the convention. The prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ceremonially unveiled the world Heritage plaque on February 4, 1999 which includes three wild life Sanctuary with an area of 1,39,700 hectare.
On a recent visit, this correspondent saw that some influential people have put sign boards after occupying lands in Joymonirghol area adjacent to the Sundarbans. Some persons were conducting their business by grabbing lands in the area.
Local people alleged, due to occupying lands , bio diversity of  the Sundarbans are posing threat.

Experts think, necessary steps should be taken on urgent basis in order to save the wild lives.
Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Conservator of Forest (CF) of Khulna region said, 18 more sanctuaries would be built in the Sundarbans within short time.

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