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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh begins inventory with its forestlands fast eroding

  • Government manages to restore only 27,000 hectares of grabbed forest lands
  • As much as 257,000 hectares of forest lands have gone into the hands of illegal occupants
Update : 27 Feb 2024, 12:52 PM

Bangladesh’s second national forest inventory (NFI) exercise comes at a time when the country is fast losing more of its forest lands compared to what it is able to restore. 

The government launched the 2nd NFI on Sunday, over seven years after the first such exercise was initiated back in December 2016.  

The official data presented before the current session of parliament shows that over the last few years the government managed to restore only 27,000 hectares of grabbed forest lands, whereas as much as 257,000 hectares of forest lands have gone into the hands of illegal occupants. 

The World Bank, which is financing the Tk25 crore 2nd NFI of Bangladesh, says Bangladesh's total forest area has been reduced to 18,834 square kilometers in 2021 from over 19,000 sq km in 2006.  

Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury told the Jatiya Sangsad earlier this month that there are 2.3 million hectares of forest lands in the country, constituting 15.58 percent of the land area of Bangladesh. Ideally, a country should have at least 25% forest coverage to maintain the ecological balance.

Speaking at the inauguration program of the 2nd NFI in the city on Sunday, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, said: “The government of Bangladesh is committed to ensuring the protection and monitoring of its natural resources. The National Forest Inventory is the first stage to obtain a strong and digitized resource database. This database will be an asset to materialize our target under the SDG goals and international declarations as well as better management of our resources.”

The environment minister emphasized the NFI's significance in establishing Bangladesh's National Forest Monitoring System and its role as the primary data source for forest biomass and Carbon inventory. Additionally, the NFI will encompass non-timber forest products, soil analysis, and cultural aspects, going beyond wood volume assessment. He said this database will be an asset in having the target materialised under the SDG goals and international declarations as well as better management of our resources.

Minister Chowdhury highlighted Bangladesh's previous completion of a comprehensive national forest inventory from 2016 to 2019, underscoring the second cycle's objective of analyzing trends and identifying areas requiring interventions.

Under the 2nd NFI exercise, 1,858 sample plots in forests will be visited to assess the net forest

resources. Around 6,400 households will be surveyed to enumerate the communities’ dependency on

forest resources. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the country’s existing National Forest Management System and increase precision in forest monitoring.

The National Forest Inventory will be undertaken across the country by the Bangladesh Forest Department with technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Supported by the World Bank under the Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods (SUFAL) Project, Bangladesh will conduct the national-level forest inventory to collect biophysical and socioeconomic data across the

country. Identifying the status of the forest resources and their dependency will pave the way for better management of forest resources.  

Speaking at the launch event, Dr Jiaoqun Shi, FAO Representative in Bangladesh, said: “Information from the National Forest Inventory will be used to complete international reporting as well as strengthening the country’s resource monitoring system. This will help build a strong information system for the forests. FAO continues to support Bangladesh and its people in protecting their natural resources.”

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