Main causes of deforestation

The ecology and biodiversity of the Sundarbans is under extreme threat due to mainly manmade reasons, climate change and natural disaster. Firstly, politically and economically powerful groups are grabbing the forest illegally. People’s settlements are increasing gradually around the forest. Despite the ban, illegal tree felling is causing deforestation.

Secondly, commercial activities are also increasing in ecologically critical area surrounding the forest. Thirdly, excessive extraction of forest resources is damaging the biodiversity. Besides, many species face damage owing to harmful methods of resource extraction. For example, poison and harmful nets are often used for fishing.

Fourthly, despite the co-management, the existing forest management system has marginalised the rights and traditional knowledge of the forest-dependent people. For instance, they require clearance from the forest department every year against a certain amount of money to gather their resources. Allegations of irregularities and corruption have been found in getting clearance certificates. So the forest people tend to collect more resources than they need to meet these extra costs. Fifthly, the ecosystem and bio-diversity are being threatened with extinct due to the frequent natural disasters.

Sixthly, several organic and inorganic ingredients (salinity, rainfall, soil pH, mineral ingredients etc.) of the forest are being altered owing to the climate change, an alarming signal for ecosystem. Seventhly, both the conservation and sustainability will have improved if the traditional knowledge and the sustainable customary methods of forest people are used.

Updating forest conservation laws

Updating laws on forest, nature and biodiversity conservation as well as its implementation are necessary. The government has sought public opinion on the draft of Forest Act 2019. The national committee of IUCN Bangladesh has already placed a set of opinions and proposals.

Protection of the forest and the forest lands will increase if the practice of different traditional knowledge and sustainable customary methods of the forest-dependent people can be increased by including these into the institutional forest management.Capacity and transparency will increase, if the people from different professions of the civil society as well as the forest dwellers have the opportunity to participate in forest management. Taking different international laws into consideration is also necessary to update the laws on the forest. Punitive measures are essential against destroying and grabbing forest and any activity harmful to the biodiversity and forest area. In this case, proper enforcement of the law is necessary.

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