Sundarban, the largest mangrove forest is situated at the southern part of Bangladesh adjacent to Bay of Bengal and Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna river delta along with the West Bengal of India. The forest covers 10,000 square kilometers of which about 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Bangladesh. It has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
Sundarban is called the lunge of Bangladesh. The contribution of Sundarban has multidimensional capacity. Sondarban is part and parcel of Bangladesh, not only for ecological balance but also but also for economic affairs. But one-third of it has been dwindled already which results serious environmental threat to Bangladesh.
Sundarban covers 40% of forest areas of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is highly vulnerable country at the threat of being submerged. It’s a natural railing to save Bangladesh from natural calamities. The largest mangrove forest protects Bangladesh from coastal erosion, tsunami and surge storm. For example, Sundarban reduced the damage during cyclone Sidr in 2007 and cyclone Aila in 2009. The characteristics of mangrove forest slowdowns the flow of water that prevents deposition of sediment. Besides, the forest ecosystem full of life, energy and enthusiasm, rich in flora and fauna, provides habitats for about 6540 species, both aquatic and terrestrial. About 5,700 species are of vascular plants and 840 species belong to the forest wildlife (Akhond, 1999). The Sundarban’s Tiger reserve is known to have the largest number of tigers in the entire world.
Though it is not wise to evaluate economic contribution of Sundarban because its contribution is invaluable we just find out the socio-economic inter-relations between Sunderban and habitants. Bangladesh agriculture based country. Two third of the populations are engaged with agriculture. Most of the people of the southern region depend on the Sundarban directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. People collect honey,timber, woods, leafs, organic medicine etc. Bangladesh is 5th in global fish production. Fisheries sector contributes 3-5% of GDP. There are number of rivers which provide fishes. Due to climate change, it is declaiming day by day.
Sunderban is a famous tourism spot also. Sundarban National Park, Kotka beach, Hiron point, Dublar Char are famous tourist zones in Sundarban.
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The most frightful news is that Sundarban has been troubled several times. Last year, a large ship carrying over 1,200 tons of coal sank in the southern Shela River. The ongoing debate on Rmpal coal-based power plant has question over harm to Sundarban. Specialists say that because of Rampal Project the density of Nitrogen di Oxide and Sulfur di Oxide will be 54 microgram where standard rate is 30 microgram. Moreover, it will effect total ecosystem of Sundarban. That why, the environmentalist, students and civil society demand for the reassessment of the project in sake of Sundarban’s security. Policy makers should seek for any other options. Because, there is no alternative of Sundarban!!
student, International Relations
University of Chittagong.