Illicit trade reducing trees in protected forest
Bangladesh is experiencing massive deforestation. Now it is clear to all that deforestation has a substantial contribution to global warming. In addition, burning of forests in order to clear land releases tones of carbon dioxide which increases global warming.
Deforestation reduces the content of water in the soil and groundwater as well as atmospheric moisture. It also reduces soil cohesion. Subsequently, erosion, flooding and landslide occur. Mainly in the tropical areas, deforestation account for up to one-third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, which is very bad for the environment.
The question is then precisely where do our priorities lie when it comes to building up resilience against climate change? It is a proven fact that the mangrove forest does much to ward off the worst effects of natural calamities like cyclone. While we have various programmes at both government and non-government level urging the plantation of trees, here we are, turning a blind eye to an illicit trade that is systematically reducing the number of trees in a protected forest. These are naturally grown trees that give the Sundarbans its beauty and take decades to grow to maturity; trees that save us from air pollution and reduce the carbon footprint.
Such arguments obviously fall on deaf ears as we find that the Coastguard West Zone (Mongla) impounded 416 cft of logs from April 15 to August 19 this year. Needless to say, we have no idea about how much more slipped through the net. Unfortunately for us, we fail to distinguish between protected and unprotected forest lands and when such illegal activity is backed up by local political patronage, the Sundarbans faces the same fate as other forest lands in the country.
A country should have 25 percent forestland of its total area to get rid of environmental degradation. But we have only 16 percent. Approaching dangers are knocking at the door. So time has come to think about it and legal measures in order to arrest the deforestation trend in our country. Our children are growing up in a polluted environment. So the upcoming generation must be given the opportunity to understand the bad impact of deforestation. The civil societies, NGOs, local communities should come forward and work closely with the government agencies. Awareness building education and training can play a pivotal role in this process.