Rapid loss of forest lands inviting danger
THE government's lack of initiative to conserve existing forest land is making wildlife vulnerable. Influential persons operating under the protection of the government are felling trees and destroying forest to advance their business interest, for which the country may face big danger in near future. In the previous years, destruction of natural and reserved forests was on the peak while the government's reforestation projects miserably failed. All this resulted in further loss of wildlife habitats making their life unsafe. The highest loss occurred in Chattagram hill forests and in the Madhupur Range's Sal forest as the reserved forests were not demarcated the reserved forests. 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.
Though the country had aforestation projects at many places, its primary forest coverage decreased from 3.68 million acres in 1990 to 3.53 million acres in 2015. World Bank funded project for 'Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection' virtually flopped due to failure to implement the major components of the Tk 256 crore project. The buildings for housing Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centres built in Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet under the project now stare at passersby as hollow monuments. The same fate afflicts the building for housing a Wildlife Centre at Gazipur as well as a Forensic Lab and a Wildlife Crime Control Unit in the capital. The project automatically wound up due to the government failure to regularize the jobs of trained personnel as contract with the World Bank required.
We must say any future conservation initiative would require involvement of local communities for sustainability where government's lack of interest is not acceptable.