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Reforestation activities launched in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps

  • Published at 08:54 pm June 26th, 2019
Picture shows some people planting tree Dhaka Tribune

The reforestation program in 2019 will span across 500 acres inside the camps

The Energy and Environment Technical Working Group (EETWG), comprised of UN agencies and NGOs, has launched reforestation activities in the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps.

This year, members of the group will complete reforestation activities over 500 acres inside the camp, said a press release issued on Wednesday.

The area that hosts what is now the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp was a forest with diverse flora and fauna before the arrival of over one million Rohingyas, fleeing Myanmar in 2017 and 2018. 

The reforestation that 20 UN agencies and NGOs, alongside the Bangladesh government and refugees themselves, are doing is expected to rejuvenate the camp areas and restore the land and habitat, stated Todd Wofchuck, EETWG coordinator.

The reforestation will also stabilize the vulnerable land to mitigate the risk of landslides and flooding in the camps which can cut people off from vital services during heavy monsoon rains. It will also restore the riparian area, improve the vegetation cover, and reduce surface water pollution and increase ground water recharge.

Indigenous species are being planted to help restore the damaged environment and help conserve the endangered species in the region. A mixed vegetation approach will be used in the restoration initiative, which includes planting of long rooted grass, leguminous seeds, tree seedlings, and bamboo.

The reforestation is part of a holistic program being run by the UN agencies in the camp. 

Firstly, deforestation was halted by addressing the demand for cooking fuel in the Rohingya camps by providing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and LPG gas stoves. Since then, the number of trees being cut down to use as fuel has greatly reduced.

The reforestation of the area is the next step to restore the environment in and around the camps and this year's planting is part of a three-year strategic plan, where technical assistance is being provided by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and laid out in the Camp Greening Strategy 2019.