Future of huge carbon reserves of Sundarbans
A latest survey conducted by the forest department disclosed that there is a reserve of 5.6 crore tonnes of carbon in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans worth around Tk 18,816 crore. Moreover, this carbon reserve can be sold without causing any harm to the world's largest mangrove forest. Bangladesh Forest Department conducted the survey with the financial and technical help from USAID, Silver Carbon, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) based on a feasibility study conducted by the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry and US authorities titled "Sundarbans Foreign Carbon Inventory 2009".
Any developing country protects its forest resources and takes initiative of reforestation in decayed forests, can sell its carbon deposits to developed countries. And a developed country can purchase the amount of carbon it emits. However, before exploring the potential avenues to sell the carbon reserve, Bangladesh will have to register at the international carbon stock market even in 10 years after the initiation of the 'Sundarbans Foreign Carbon Inventory'. But that has not been done yet. Moreover, to this end, the country also needs to engage with a reputable international broker house. Even before all these, the country has not taken a decision as to whether it would sell the reserve carbon.
The largest mangrove forest of the world which is also a UNESCO natural heritage site is a rich natural asset of Bangladesh for its wider biodiversity. It also acts as a protective shield against cyclones, floods and other climactic disasters.
For protecting the existing biodiversity with its varied flora and fauna, there is no doubt the government needs to allocate huge sums of funds, as much for training and increasing the number of forest professionals as for buying technical equipment to aid these professionals. Therefore, if money can be earned by selling the carbon in the forest without harming the forest's its biodiversity, the government can surely positively consider selling its carbon stocks. But before taking that crucial decision, it is necessary to be confirmed that carbon extraction would not harm the forest environmentally.
In order to ensure safe carbon extraction and profitable selling, the government must engage all relevant stakeholders including climate and environment experts. Most importantly, knowledge transfer from countries involved in carbon trading is a crucial aspect.
With or without carbon extraction and selling, Bangladesh can ill afford to put its largest forest reserve to jeopardy.