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5 April, 2021 09:13:34 AM

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Our forests, our development

Forest restoration is the key strategy for stopping global warming. Stopping deforestation is really important because about 10% of carbon dioxide emissions come from deforestation. The act of planting must be seen as the continuous process. We need more trees everywhere; no space should remain unused or underused
Dr. Md. Enamul Hoque
Our forests, our development

The 2021 international day of forests was observed around the world on 21 March to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests for our universe.  The theme of the 2021 International Day of Forests was "Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being."  Like other countries, Bangladesh observed the day with due importance and highlights.

Forests are closely related with our existence and well-being as they perform three key roles to support livelihoods: subsistence, safety nets, and pathways to prosperity reducing poverty and creating livelihoods. It supports the livelihoods of 20% (1.4 billion) of the global population.

 People living in or near forests, draw substantial parts of their subsistence needs from forests.  It also produces goods and services for sustainable development, fostering an economic activity that creates jobs and improves lives of marginalized people in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Forest Department has been advocating the necessity of forests for our survival, food, shelter, and safety. They executed large amount of awareness building activities across the country during the last ten years, and implemented a good number of activities enhancing reforestation, afforestation, and controlling human-driven clearing of forested land. As a result, our people now understand that sustainable management of forest and use of forest resources are keys to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.

In spite of having priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate. However, the case is slightly pleasant in Bangladesh as the forests landscape has been growing continuously every year. Now, the total forest area of Bangladesh is nearly 2.8 million hectares, which is about 17.7% of the total land area of Bangladesh, and it is on the rise to expand. It is hoped that the forest cover may reach up to 20% of our total land by 2030.

Bangladesh is successful in continuously expanding forest covers in spite of having multifarious challenges. The forest land is continuously under threats mainly due to illegal logging and conversion to non-forestry uses. The country has lost approximately 450,000 acres of forest land since independence in many ways. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has allocated over 150,000 acres of forest land to different entities for various development works. Government organizations as well as non-government organizations receive the allotments for greater interests of the country. Furthermore, private industrialists and influential people grabbed about 300,000 acres of forest land across the country.

Forest Department educates people to save forestry and generate income from forest-related occupation which is positively aligned with forest improvement. It provides education and training to nearby people which significantly reduces their dependency on forest resources. The Forest Department is highly appreciated for effective forest management policy by educating the forest-dependent people and supporting alternative income generation activities in the community.

The Forest Department planted one crore saplings across the country in 2020 to make the birth centenary of Father of Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman memorable. Under the social forestry activities, more than 7 lakh beneficiaries are directly working to manage their living working with the Forest Department. This allows the poor people to support their family and live a better life. This boosts the local economy.

Currently, Bangladesh Forest Department steadily moves forward with constraints and inadequate manpower to increase forest covers, afforestation, reforestation, and recovering forest lands from land grabbers. Land grabbers are usually influential persons of the society; and therefore, recovering forest land from the influential people is difficult and very risky. However, almost every day, new land is being recovered from the land grabbers and illegal encroacher; and, these lands are being converted to forest lands by plantation or reforestation.

Reports are found from the newspapers that clashes frequently occurred between the miscreants and forest employees almost every day. Sometimes, forest employees become the personal enemies of land grabbers and influential forest destroyers; as a result, sometimes the forest employees are killed, assaulted, and seriously wounded for the cause of saving forests and forestlands, the national property.

Forest restoration is the key strategy for stopping global warming. Stopping deforestation is really important because about 10% of carbon dioxide emissions come from deforestation. The act of planting must be seen as the continuous process. We need more trees everywhere; no space should remain unused or underused. Every space around our homes, homestead, roads, and streets should be turned green by planting trees.

In Bangladesh, homestead forests are said to play an important economic roles in rural livelihoods. So, we need to grow our own forest to plant trees to help save the planet; even our rooftops are being planted with beautiful trees, plants, and herbs to beautify our houses. Besides the decorative benefits, roof plantings provides food, temperature control, hydrological benefits, architectural enhancement, habitats or corridors for wildlife, recreational opportunities, and in large scale it may even have ecological benefits.

Though Bangladesh Forest Department has great achievement, the forest men have to work in huge constraints. It has a work force of only 10,449 persons (with vacant posts) which is barely inadequate to manage, protect and look after the huge forestlands spread throughout the country. Different stakeholders, working with Bangladesh forests opine that in the present needs the organogram of Forest Department should be reshuffled with a workforce of at least 25,000 employees of different grades proportionately. New posts should be created to face emerging challenges for the national interests; and every employee must have the opportunity to be promoted in due course. 

Forest employees help develop, maintain, and protect the forests by growing and planting new seedlings, fighting insects and diseases that attack trees, and helping to control soil erosion. So, sufficient in-service training should be arranged to further increase their efficiency.

A great deal of progress has consequently been made in the forestry sector of Bangladesh. It can be said that there have been a forest revolution in our country. Bangladesh Forest Department has worked hard and campaigned constantly to bring awareness among the people focusing its environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits which contribute directly to the well being of our people. The process should be continued ceaselessly for the great cause of the forest expansion, forest well-being and a green Bangladesh.

The writer is an educational researcher and teacher educator and ex-professor of English. Email: [email protected]

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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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