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Learning to preserve nature

  • Published at 12:01 am February 22nd, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:46 pm February 22nd, 2017
Learning to preserve nature

At a time when we are screaming about climate change, I find that the countries worst affected need to do more for their own survival rather than only blame others and demand compensation.

In Bangladesh, despite laws, the forest land is going to land-grabbers or those trading in timber. We need to address this with the death penalty, because these elements are putting our country at risk.

Indeed, we are an overpopulated country, but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wants to turn our population into assets rather than a liability, so we need to enforce our laws strictly to be on the path of both surviving and doing business legally. In fact, we need to be honest with ourselves when matters like climate change is the issue.

My travels tell me how the Europeon countries have managed to face climate change.

Nature, for them, is not only an asset, but something sacred. Every plan, it appeared to me, was made in a way so that nature is least disturbed.

When I landed in Kuopio, a small university town in Finland, it was windy and covered in snow. The temperature was below 10 degrees Celsius. My cousin, Iqbal, told me to gear up to face the elements before leaving the airport terminal.

I was awestruck to see the snow-covered trees on the hills. An interesting thing to see was that all trees stood straight, without any bend.

We need to enforce our laws strictly to be on the path of both surviving, and doing business legally. We need to be honest with ourselves when matters like climate change is the issue

Where are the homes and roads? They have been very carefully placed in the hills without cutting the trees, and the hills have been shaped very artistically.

“For every plant cut, five more are planted in that area so that it does not go barren,” a Finnish man told me at a bus stop as I admired the greenery amid the snow.

He added that “70% of our land is covered by forest, which keeps air pollution low.”

I asked if the government do all that, or individual citizens too.

“Everyone ... we love our country, our nature. So if I cut a tree after getting the local council’s approval, I also try to plant new ones as per plans.”

In many hill tops I could see the trunks of trees with their tops cut off but surrounded by newer ones.

Amazing, and no one complains there, and there are no “money-making” so-called campaigns for protecting the environment, like there are in Bangladesh. We should start doing real things, rather than shouting in the streets only. As I travelled by bus to the capital, Helsinki, the land seemed green. So soothing to my eyes; it was smooth road zig-zagging through the Finnish countryside.

In Helsinki, amid high-rise buildings, one can see how the greenery has been kept all over with detailed planning.

Our mayors travel a lot, and before it is impossible, they must urgently make greener plans for Dhaka and other cities and quickly implement these. We have now learned not to pick flowers, and I am sure we can understand to not uproot trees that will clear the pollution as well as give us some beauty amid the concrete buildings.

Roof gardening and planting trees in front of all structures -- home or office -- must be made compulsory.

Last, a story about honesty of the Finnish people. I bought tickets to Puijo Tower in Kuopio to have a sky view of the city. But after going to the top, I found the door was closed with warning of bad weather.

After having coffee at the restaurant, I came down and told the lady that the ticket was useless as I could not go to the viewing deck. I said she should have told me it was closed.

The lady apologised with a smile and said the ticket was for entering the tower. But since she did not tell me about the locked door due to bad weather she was happy to refund the ticket money. Indeed she did.

That honesty is common in Finland, and we need to tell ourselves, why not us?

Nadeem Qadir is a senior journalist and the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.