Forest experts said the weakness of the roots, species of trees, poor quality of saplings, and climate change were behind the excessive damage to trees and saplings
Cyclone Bulbul left a trail of devastation when it hit Bangladesh last month, and the impoverished people and trees in the coastal districts continue to bear the brunt.
Sources at the Forest Department said 1,105 trees and 192,915 saplings, worth an estimated amount of Tk 1.10 crore, were damaged in the district alone during the cyclonic storm.
During visits to Bagerhat Sadar, Fakirhat, Chitalmari and Kachua upazilas, the UNB correspondent found thousands of trees – mainly Chambal, Sirish, Mahogany and rain trees – uprooted in the fury of Bulbul.
Forest experts said the weakness of the roots, species of trees, poor quality of saplings, and climate change were behind the excessive damage to trees and saplings.
Sheikh Ali Ahmed, ward member of Lakpur union in Fakirhat upazila, said he incurred huge losses as four of his big trees were uprooted during the storm.
Siddiqur Rahman, president of the managing committee of Khajura Government Primary School of Fakirhat, said two big trees of the school were uprooted while another remained vulnerable.
Sudeb Biswas, a resident of Charbaniari village in Chitalmari upazila, said he had planted saplings at his yard in hopes of making some money; however, four of his trees were uprooted and several others were damaged during cyclone Bulbul.
Bagerhat Social Forest Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Mohammad Abul Kalam said most of the private nurseries use clay pots for saplings, which prevent the main roots from properly growing.
Coiled roots grown in clay pots do not have the necessary strength to keep trees stable in storms, he said, suggesting that nursery owners should maintain roots shoot ratio and the plants should be two to three feet high, while the main root must not be cut.
Mohammad Mahmudul Hasan, DFO of the Sundarbans East Zone, suggested planting Jhau and Babla trees instead of rain trees and Chambal in the coastal region.
Assistant Prof Mohammad Shah Alam Farazi of Botany Department of Bagerhat Government PC College, said: “The soil in Bagerhat has become salty due to climate change, and the tree roots that extend downwards do not go deep enough; the soil is losing its fertility.”
Prof Dr Mahmud Hossain of the Forestry and Wood Technology Discipline of Khulna University, said the roots of Shirish and Chambal trees get weak during storms because of their height and the because of the large number of branches they have.
“In Bagerhat, the roots don’t go deep enough but spread out parallelly, as the water level can be found near the topsoil layer,” he said.