Sundarbans biodiversity is govt’s highest priority: PM tells JS
DHAKA, June 16, 2021 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the government has taken various initiatives to expand the Sundarbans by developing artificial mangrove forest across the coastal belt and protect its biodiversity with the highest priority.
“Whatever steps are taken for the development of the country, the Sundarbans and its biodiversity are given the highest priority so that it is not harmed in any way,” she said.
The Prime Minister, also the Leader of the House, made this remarks, replying to a tabled question from the treasury bench lawmaker Begum Sultana Nadira (women’s seat-15) during her question-answer session.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury chaired the sitting of the 13th session of the 11th Jatiya Sangsad (JS).
Sheikh Hasina said initiative has been taken to increase the size of the Sundarbans creating artificial mangroves and steps have already been taken to expand it to the entire coastal belt.
At the same time, various measures, including smart patrolling, have been introduced to protect the trees and wildlife as well as curb forest crimes to ensure the Sundarbans’ reservoir of biodiversity, she said.
Mentioning the Sundarbans as a unique gift of nature for Bangladesh, she said it protects the country from the severity of natural disasters, including cyclones, and that is why the present government is always sincere and determined to protect the forest and its biodiversity.
Sheikh Hasina said in 1997 a special area of the Sundarbans was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO during the regime of Awami League government and she unveiled the “World Heritage Plate” at Neel Komol on February 4, 1999.
The Sundarbans is home to 334 species of plants, 175 species of algae, 13 species of orchids and 365 species of wildlife. Among the wildlife, there are 42 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles, 6 species of amphibians, 315 species of birds, 210 species of fish, 24 species of shrimps and 14 species of crabs.
The premier said steps have been taken to increase manpower of the forest department to protect the flora and fauna of the Sundarbans. “Considering the shortage of manpower of the forest department, an initiative is being implemented to create some more posts for the protection and preservation of the Sundarbans,” she added.
In addition, plans are afoot to make the manpower of forest department up-to-date by providing training on modern forest management, including SMART Patrolling, drone technology and so on, she added.
A project titled “Sundarbans Protection” is under implementation at a cost of Taka 156.8 crore with the funding of the government. The project includes strengthening of modern forest management in the Sundarbans, providing training of deployed officials and other stakeholders and creating a better working environment for them, strengthening the monitoring system to protect the biodiversity of the Sundarbans along with ecological monitoring, automation of permit system, increasing supply of sweet water, vegetation Mapping and change trend analysis.
In addition, with the finance of German government, another project being run by GIZ is focusing on SMART Patrolling, co-management, ecological monitoring and integrated resources management plan (IRMP) for the Sundarbans.
Moreover, the Tiger Action Plan (2018-2027) and National Tiger Recovery Program are being implemented.
The Prime Minister said due to strengthening forest management of the present government, the numbers of trees and tigers have increased and a total of 114 tigers were found in the 2018 tiger census which was 106 in 2015.
Besides, the amount of carbon in the Sundarbans was 106 million tons in 2009 which increased to 139 million tons in 2019, she added.