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Protect our forests from destruction

Published : Sunday, 4 August, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 221

Protect our forests from destruction

Protect our forests from destruction

At the opening event of a tree plantation programme in Rangpur on Wednesday, Experts and government officials expressed their concern over lack of adequate forest coverage in Bangladesh. Environment activists, media and the civil society have been highlighting this issue for a long time, apparently to little effect. Bangladesh has less than one third of the ideal forest coverage required for a country. And this too is dwindling steadily. Based on UN parameters, countries must have a forest cover of at least 25 per cent of their total land while also stressing that a city must have a forest cover of 10 per cent. However, the worrying factor is that Bangladesh may well run out of forests within the next 50 years if deforestation continues at the current rate.

It is well known that forests play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change while also contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and humidity in the air. Forests were the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 per cent of terrestrial animals and plants. Although forestry is now one of the top priorities of many countries around the world, it has been neglected in Bangladesh for too long in the past. Rather ironically during colonial rule, a proper mechanism was set up to save the forests. After independence this sector has been left hanging so to speak. The authorities need to be more careful regarding our forests because we have no other survival option than to protect and conserve the forests.

Particularly, it is crucially important to recover the forest area which has been destroyed for giving refuge to Rohingyas in the southern part of Bangladesh. The degree of ecological damage has been horrendous. Media reports estimated the loss of Tk 456.08 crore for disappearance of trees of 6,163.5 acres of hilly land for building 30 makeshift camps and Tk 1,400 crore in ecological damages. The government will have to run the extra mile to reclaim the forest coverage in this area.

There have been several forestation programmes which, if implemented properly, would not just help increase forest coverage but it also provide livelihood for many. Such initiatives can be helpful not just to mitigate harmful effects of climate change but also can help in coping with the energy crisis. Forests must be preserved and forestation programmes must be taken up vigorously. No amount of economic prosperity will save us from ecological loss resulting from deforestation. And any efforts to remediate ecological loss will cost much more than any economic gain.

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