Need to conserve forest to enrich biodiversity -The Asian Age

 In the country, forests are an inexhaustible source of biodiversity. Forests increase oxygen, reduce toxic carbon dioxide, cause rainfall, prevent erosion and pollution. The conservation of biodiversity is a significant part of Sustainable Forest Management.

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is defined as a dynamic concept that aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental value of all types of forests for the benefit of present and future generations. When the forest is managed sustainably, it provides clean air and water for humans, conserves biodiversity and responds to climate change.

Forests play an extensive role in making the country livable. Its importance and necessity are immense in both the sustainable development of the national economy and the environment and in maintaining the balance of the environment.

The significance of forests in the field conservation of animal sanctuaries, conservation of biodiversity, increase atmospheric humidity and heat balance, prevent soil erosion, increase soil fertility, prevent cyclones and tidal surges, and purify air through carbon-dioxide uptake, supply oxygen to the atmosphere.

According to the Forest Department, Bangladesh currently has a total of 2.52 million hectares of forest land, which is about 17.4 percent of the country's total land area. The forest department currently controls 10.30% of the land in the country.

As a tropical country, Bangladesh enjoys a wide range of biodiversity across both wild and cultivated lands. These include hilly forests, plain forests, Sundarbans, coastal forests and tea and rubber plantations.

According to the government forest department and its affiliated agencies, various international organizations and their affiliates, the causes of deforestation are population growth, widespread poverty, and landless people's access to forests, jum cultivation and misuse of forest resources.

Besides, the using of forest land for grazing, illegal logging, collection of firewood, uncontrolled and indiscriminate commercial use of forest resources is also blamed for deforestation. However, population growth is identified as the biggest cause of deforestation.

At present, all the policies, laws, sections and rules governing forest management by the Bangladesh Forest Department are National Forest Policy-1994, Forest Act-1927 (amended 2000), Bangladesh Wildlife (Conservation) Act-1973 (amended 1974), Social Forestry Rules-2004, Nursery and Tree Planting Guidelines-2004, Forestry Movement Rules-2006 (Proposed) etc.

According to a report by IUCN, 54 out of 708 species of fish, 12 out of 632 species of birds have become extinct in Bangladesh due to hostile climate and 30 species are on the verge of extinction. Of the 49 species of amphibians, 8 are extinct and 167 of the 17 species of reptiles are on the verge of extinction. Of the 127 mammal species, 12 are endangered and 17 are on the verge of extinction. Of the 5,000 species of plants, the survival of 106 is under threat. Tigers are going to be extinct like dinosaurs. About 50 tigers are declining in the world every year.

It is increasingly recognized that forest resources contribute directly to livelihoods in a variety of ways. The forests of Asia provide food, shelter, firewood, and timber to millions of people. Besides, the forest sector provides formal and informal employment for many of the rural poor people. Developing countries produce 30-40 billion worth of timber and processed timber products each year, although a small portion of it currently benefits poor households.

About two billion people depend on wood, charcoal and other biomass fuels for their energy. The World Health Organization estimates that two billion people depend on medicine for their health, most of which comes from forests. Hunting and fishing provide the protein requirements of 20% of households in 62 developing countries, and most of it occurs in the wild.

There are many challenges to increasing the well-being of people dependent on forests. These include increasing forest-based employment and income opportunities, exploring ways to reduce forest resources that harm livelihoods, ensuring their education and health system etc.

Forest resources play a central role in tackling global climate change, food shortages and the challenges of improving the livelihoods of a growing population. By 2025, two-thirds of all nations will face water supply pressures and 2.4 billion people will live in countries that are unable to provide adequate water for essence health, agricultural and commercial needs.

For many centuries, due to famine or other reasons, people around the forest have acted as a kind of natural protection net that affects agriculture and food production, providing them with fruits, leaves, glue, nuts and wood for fuel. Forests can be a source of economic growth and employment in forest-rich countries. More than 160 million people worldwide find employment through forest initiatives.

Our forests are dynamic ecosystems, which may change over time. Despite protection from external or internal threats, they may become pastures due to heavy population pressures, their habitat or pollution, and excessive use of forest products. Also, cultivation around the forest severely affects the growth of forest plants and their products.

Every family and individual dependent on the forest must ensure all their benefits. In that case, forest managers and beneficiaries all have no choice but to work together. Also, we will increase tree plantation by creating new forests and the least productive agricultural land, where appropriate. This will enrich biodiversity and the people of there will be able to privilege it.

Nazmunnaher Nipa & Touhidur Rahman Tuhin, Associate Editor of The Environment Review.