Monday, June 18, 2018 | ePaper

Preserve the valuable forestland and save the wildlife

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COUNTRY'S forestland is declining rapidly. Government's lack of initiative to conserve existing forest is causing rapid loss of forestland making the wildlife vulnerable. Influential people and vested interest groups allegedly under the protection of the government are cutting trees and destroying forest for their mere business interest.
In the previous years, destruction of natural and reserved forests was on the peak while the government's reforestation projects had miserably failed. All this resulted in further loss of wildlife habitats making their life unsafe. Report said the gross deforestation between 2006 and 2014 was 0.75 percent, the highest since 1930. The highest loss occurred in Chattogram hill forests and in the Madhupur Range's Sal forest. As the reserved forests were not demarcated, the reserved forests protection goals could not be achieved.
We see the government is not having enough interest in extension work of forest amidst rapid urbanization, habitation and commercial agriculture that resulted in losing habitat for wildlife. Environmentalists have attached greater priority to homestead forestation of Gamari, Mehaguni, Jarul, Jaam and other native species to meet the growing demand for wood and other forest resources.
Plantation of fast-harvesting exotic species that threaten natural forests should not be entertained. Data showed that Tk 185 crore was invested on reforestation and social forestry in Chattogram, Jashore, Kushtia, Rajshahi, Sylhet and in the coastal belt in 2009-14. Fast-harvesting Acasia, Agor, Rubber and Bamboo were predominantly planted in these areas during the period along with many other species.
The Department of Forest in 2017 classified over 68 lakh acres of forest as reserved forests increasing the area from over 44 lakh acres but the area did not expand. The government even did not adopt the rules for the implementation of the Wildlife Conservation Act-2012. Any future conservation initiative would require attaching greater priority to involve local communities for sustainability.
The government's lack of interest is not acceptable. It must act quickly to preserve the valuable forestland for public interest.

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