The total forest coverage in Bangladesh has shrunk to less than 10%, experts said at a workshop in Chittagong on Friday.
“A country should have at least 25% forest coverage to meet the ecological balance, but the total area of forestland in Bangladesh has come down to 7-9%,” said Dipak Chakraborty, director of Local Government, Chittagong in Chittagong divisional commissioner's office.
Dipak spoke as the chief guest at the workshop organized by Bangladesh Forest Research Institute (BFRI) at its auditorium in Chittagong on the occasion of Bangladesh gaining eligibility to graduate from least developed country to developing country status.
“It is the rural population which is protecting the forest resources in the country,” he said. “Coastal forestation has a great role to play since it shields us from natural calamities like cyclones.
“Of late, people are leaning towards agroforestry. We should emphasize on social forestry for a country like Bangladesh to face the climate change impacts.”
Dipak also underscored the importance of transferring the technologies invented by the BFRI to marginal people.
With BFRI Director Dr Khurshid Akhter in the chair, the workshop was attended by representatives from the Forest Department, Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation (BFIDC), the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), and timbers, furniture and nursery traders and sawmills owners, among others.
Dr Khurshid Akhter said the scientists working in the BFRI – the sole national institute for research on forest resources in Bangladesh – have invented over 50 technologies, with furniture and timber traders among those benefiting.
Some of the transferable technologies developed by the institute are increasing the service life of rural housing materials.
Mohammad Shahid Ullah, divisional forest officer in Chittagong, and Dr Daisy Biswas, researcher at the BFRI, gave two separate presentations at the workshop on the technologies of forest management and forest resources.
These include the utilization of rubber wood, the process for producing high-quality pulp from low-grade jute, seasoning of timber using solar energy, and a technique for making cheaper hollow-core panel.
They also include the manufacture of novelty articles from laminated wood, alternative uses of bamboo for making furniture, the development of alternative raw materials of hardboard from Keora trees, and alternative use of local timbers for railway sleepers.
The BFRI was established in 1955 as “Forest Products Research Laboratory” with an objective to invent technology for improvement and development of forest resources. It is situated on 28 hectares of land in Sholoshahar area of Chittagong.
It was upgraded to a fully-fledged national research institute in 1968 and has been functioning under the Ministry of Environment and Forests since 1985. The BFRI became affiliated with National Agriculture Research System in 1996.