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27 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 26 December, 2017 07:24:02 PM
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Dwindling forest cover

Dwindling forest cover

According to a recent report employees of a government office cut down some 248 trees of different species in Satkhira district. While the news is alarming it is hardly shocking. Illegal and indiscriminate logging have been going on in different parts of the country for decades, often in connivance with the very persons entrusted to protect trees–forest department and law enforcement personnel. There is ample proof regarding elected members of the various local government bodies being involved in the illegal logging mafia. It would hardly be an overstatement to term this unwelcome phenomenon as being tantamount to looting, with even the so-called protected forest not immune from the grasps of the loggers. Even political activists have joined the fray with alleged felling of 20,000 trees that were used as barricades on roads during agitations over the last few weeks.

The forest cover in Bangladesh is coming down at an alarming rate. According to a Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report less than one fifth percent of the country’s surface area is covered by forest which is one of the lowest in the world. Indiscriminate tree telling combined with weak environmental legislation and pressures of a growing population results in the loss of 2,000 hectares of forest per year.  

This has led to predictable consequences with the country facing impending environmental disasters. The already fragile ecological balance will be further threatened if the phenomenon is not checked. The vulnerability of coastal areas in Bangladesh to cyclones and sea-level rise is also increasing.  

The time to act is now. There is urgent need to develop massive afforestation programmes for restoring ecological balance and maintaining bio-diversity. Large scale tree plantation and social afforestation can prevent soil erosion, act as windbreaks and stabilise the climate.  Both the GOs and NGOs should work together in the field. Some NGOs have shown remarkable success in the field but such isolated efforts can hardly be a substitute for a concentrated effort to check the menace of rapidly declining forest cover.

 We believe that the concerned departments are not doing enough in raising awareness about the issue. The media too is not giving the phenomenon the importance it deserves. We hardly hear of people involved in the nefarious activities being brought to justice and given exemplary punishment. It goes without saying that planting trees is of little use if these are not protected. Protection and conservation of existing forest lands is of utmost importance. The local communities–with their indigenous knowledge about the flora–should be made partners in such activities as they are the major stakeholders.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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