Salinity in the Sundarbans is increasing due to the effects of climate change. The flow of fresh water in the rivers and canals of the forest is gradually decreasing. Several canals in the forest have been filled with silt. The people concerned think that the biodiversity of the Sundarbans is under threat due to this.
It is known that beautiful trees are dying due to excessive salinity in the Sundarbans and wild animals are also being affected by various diseases. On top of this, there is free hunting of wild animals and fishing activities by spraying pesticides in rivers and canals. For all these reasons, the biodiversity of the Sundarbans is under threat.
In this situation, different demands have been raised at different times to protect the Sundarbans. The demand to celebrate ‘Sundarbans Day’ nationally has not received response even in 21 years. Among the many demands is the formation of a separate ministry for the Sundarbans.
Meanwhile, ‘Sundarbans Day’ is being celebrated on Monday (February 14). Sundarbans Day has been observed in the coastal districts adjoining the Sundarbans since 2002. Due to Corona, like last year, virtual discussion meetings have been organized in Bagerhat, Khulna, Pirojpur, Satkhira and Barguna.
However, even in 21 years, there has been no response to the celebration of ‘Sundarbans Day’ nationally. The organizers of Sundarbans Day celebrations have been demanding the celebration of ‘Sundarbans Day’ nationally from the very beginning.
The world heritage Sundarbans has developed in the most southwestern Bay of Bengal basin of the country. The Sundarbans is called the land of natural beauty. The Sundarbans is rich in biodiversity. It is also home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Moreover, the Sundarbans stands as a natural wall against natural disasters in the country. The Sundarbans has been protecting the coastal people by getting injured in the super cyclone at different times. The Sundarbans is also the single largest mangrove forest in the world.
Muhammad Belayet Hossain, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the Sundarbans East Division, said over 20 canals in the area covered by the Sundarbans East Division have been filled with silt. Besides, 30 km area of Bhola river, Kharma canal and Aruarber canal from Jaymoni to Das Bharani has been filled. Salinity has also increased in the Sundarbans.
Khulna Private Development Agency Executive Director of the transformation. Rafiqul Islam Khokon said that the first National Sundarbans Conference was organized on 14 February 2001 in Khulna. The conference was jointly organized by 80 organizations including Rupantar, Khulna University and Bapa. The conference decided to observe ‘Sundarbans Day’ on 14 February, World Love Day and demanded the government to observe ‘Sundarbans Day’ nationally.
He said there has been no response to the celebration of Sundarbans Day nationally till date. Since 2002, Sundarbans Academy, Sundarbans Division, various press clubs and various organizations have been observing ‘Sundarbans Day’ in the districts adjoining the Sundarbans.
The executive director said, “Love the Sundarbans on the World Love Day. With this slogan in mind, the virtual ‘Sundarbans Day’ is being observed on February 14 this year as well.” This time the theme is ‘Alternative employment for the people dependent on the Sundarbans.’
Anwarul Qadir, executive director of the Sundarbans Academy, said salinity in the Sundarbans is increasing due to climate change. Freshwater sources have dwindled. Several canals in the forest have been filled with silt and slapped in different areas. Excess salt water in the forest. Due to excess salinity, various trees including Sundari are dying of various diseases. Wild animals are getting infected with various diseases by consuming salt water. So the biodiversity of the Sundarbans is under threat.
He said they have been demanding the formation of a separate ministry for the management of the Sundarbans to conserve the Sundarbans and improve the living standards of the people living near the forest. He is hopeful that if their demands are met, the fortunes of the forest and its people will improve.
Chief Forest Conservator. Amir Hossain Chowdhury said that the Sundarbans is being damaged in various ways due to the effects of climate change. There is human pressure on the forest for livelihood. The local people adjacent to the forest should be involved in the protection of the forest. He said the government is implementing various initiatives to protect the Sundarbans.
Amir Hossain further said that various organizations had demanded the celebration of Sundarbans Day nationally. But no decision has been made yet.
History of the Sundarbans
The total area of the Sundarbans is 6,017 square kilometers. The land area is 4,143 square kilometers and the water area is 1,063 square kilometers. In the eighteenth century, the size of the Sundarbans was almost twice as large as it is today. In 18, the Sundarbans was declared a protected forest. In 1996, the UNESCO Commission of the United Nations declared three Sundarbans sanctuaries as World Heritage Sites. In 2016, the government expanded the sanctuary area in the Sundarbans. Out of the total forest area of six lakh one thousand 800 hectares, now the sanctuary area is three lakh 18 thousand 900 hectares. Earlier it was only one lakh 39,600 hectares.
The Sundarbans is an ecosystem rich in biodiversity. This forest is a good habitat for many plants and animals. In 2001, the administrative area of the Sundarbans was divided into two parts. The office of the Eastern Forest Department is at Bagerhat and the office of the West Division is at Khulna.
The main plant species of the Sundarbans is the ‘Sundari tree’. According to some, the Sundarbans is the name given to a naturally formed forest after the name of a beautiful tree. Again, due to its proximity to the sea, the word ‘Samundar’ has been given the name of ‘Samundaban’ and later ‘Sundarbans’.
The salinity of the Sundarbans is increasing from east to west and from north to south. Soil salinity in the Sundarbans is 2-4.5 ds / m. However, in the dry season, the salinity of the soil is around six ds / m. Depending on the salinity of the water, the Sundarbans is divided into three types, freshwater, moderate brackish and brackish.
The Sundarbans is rich in biodiversity. The Sundarbans has 334 species of trees, 175 species of algae and 13 species of orchids, according to the forest department.
The main forest products of the Sundarbans are Sundari, Pashur, Gewa, Dhundul and Kakra trees. Besides, there are golpata, hetal, chan, fish, honey etc. in the Sundarbans.
There are more than 365 species of wildlife in the Sundarbans. These include 35 species of reptiles, 315 species of birds and 42 species of mammals. There are 210 species of white fish, 24 species of shrimp, 14 species of crabs and 43 species of malanka in the Sundarbans.
The main wildlife of the Sundarbans are the Royal Bengal Tiger, Chitral deer, wild boar, monkey, crocodile, dolphin, tortoise, otter cat, fish cat and wild cat.
According to the Forest Department, according to the latest survey of 2016, there are 114 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, one to one and a half lakh deer, 50,000 monkeys, 25,000 wild boars and 25,000 otters.
Rivers and canals
Rivers and canals are intertwined in the Sundarbans. There are 450 small and big rivers and canals in the Sundarbans. The main rivers of the forest are Pashur, Shibsa, Arpangasia, Shela, Morjat, Bhadra, Jamuna, Rayamangal and Bhola.
There is natural beauty throughout the entire Sundarbans. Among them, Karamjal, Katka, Kachikhali, Dublarchar, Hiranpoint, Kalagachhia, Manikkhali, Andarmanik and Dobeki areas are frequented by tourists.