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More than a forest

  • Published at 12:04 am June 30th, 2019
Oil spill in Sundarban
The impact is devastating SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

If we lose the Sundarbans, there will not be another one

We neglect nature at our own peril, and it is a matter of great regret that the Sundarbans have been neglected to the point where the World Heritage Committee has had to call it a “World Heritage in Danger.”

There is no way to overstate the importance of conserving the Sundarbans -- the world’s largest mangrove forest: Not only is it inextricably linked with Bangladesh’s national identity, it is home to the Bengal tiger. It balances the region’s eco-system in highly complex ways, and it provides livelihoods for thousands of people in the area. 

In our rush towards economic growth, however, we have underestimated the need to protect this World Heritage site and national treasure, ignoring many of the benefits which may not have an obvious monetary value -- the mangrove forest acts as a natural bulwark against the sea, and supports the nation’s rich biodiversity.

But coal-fired power plants and other industrial activity in the area -- there are over 150 active industrial projects -- are pushing the forest’s eco-system to the brink.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the adverse effects of climate change, and the consequences of not changing our ways will surely court disaster.

It is important to realize that it is possible for Bangladesh to reach all its development goals without harming the environment in the process; economic growth and conservation should work in tandem, they need to be at odds.