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Forest resources: The shield of nature and environment

Forest resources: The shield of nature and environment

Md. Zillur Rahaman

March 21 is celebrated as International Day of Forests. The day is also celebrated spontaneously in other countries like Bangladesh to create awareness about forest protection. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day of Forests to protect forests and woodlands, and since then, March 21 has been celebrated as the International Day of Forests.

In fact, people are directly dependent on nature and forest resources for their food, clothing, shelter, medicines etc. Humans get the endless supply of oxygen that they need to survive from the trees of the forest. Moreover, humans not only obtain food and oxygen from forest plant species; moreover medicines, wood, paper, fibers, rubber, glue, resins, tannins, flowers, etc. are also obtained. Similarly, meat, dairy products, skin, feathers, wool, lac, honey etc. are collected from various animal species of the forest. In short, people are directly or indirectly dependent on forests in various ways for food and health protection.

Humans are mainly responsible for the current climate change and warming crisis in the world. So everyone has something to do to get rid of this crisis. Due to urbanization, industrialization, modernization of agriculture etc. environmental crisis is increasing alarmingly. But it is not at all possible to stop or reduce the speed of industrialization-urbanization. So there is a need to try to maintain a balance between development and conservation.

In this regard, forestry can play the most important and effective role. Every human can contribute to the conservation and growth of plants. So everyone should plant as many trees as possible around the house or in open spaces during the planting season every year. Only then nature and environment and human life and health will be good.

Many may remember that in May 2020 Super Cyclone 'Ampan' hit the coast, but the loss of life due to trees in the Sundarbans was minimal and it was a relief at that time. This was not the case with 'Cyclone Ampan', earlier Bulbul on 9 November 2019, Cyclone Sidor on 15 November 2007 and Cyclone Aila on 25 May 2009, which hit with devastating force but were weakened by being blocked by trees in the Sundarbans. The result was much less damage, the loss of life was much less than expected. The Sundarbans acted as shield and sentinels to protect the people of the south-western coast of the country and adjacent areas from natural calamities.

The Sundarbans of Bangladesh is the single largest mangrove forest in the world located on the Bay of Bengal coast. Many say, it is the Amazon forest of Bangladesh. Rich in biodiversity, Sundarbans is one of the most attractive places for people all over the world. It is the favorite habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger, a symbol of valor. The Sundarbans stands proudly after facing natural calamities like Cyclone Sidor, Aila, Fani and Bulbul, which is a symbol of pride and glory of the country.

But the existence of this forest is getting endangered. Those who research on this forest, say that Sundarban is one of the forces of biodiversity and environment protection. However, the existence of the Sundarbans is threatened due to the sinking of oil tanks, water inside the forest, pollution of the environment, poachers and the construction of industries in the areas adjacent to the forest.

In this case, comprehensively planned afforestation is the most effective way and measure to prevent drought and desertification. Forestry protects us from the harmful effects of green house, provides essential food, supplies oxygen, keeps the environment clean by absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the air, protects the living world by purifying the harmful polluted air, provides cool shade, prevents soil erosion, organic matter in the soil, protects soil fertility by summing substance, retains adequate amount of water in the soil, provides fuel, supplies raw materials for valuable life-saving medicines, acts as a safe habitat for animals, birds and other wildlife, prevents natural disasters from storms and floods, helps in building houses and in making valuable furniture, prevents salinity, acts as an insurance in case of human accidents, keeps the soil pure and clean by absorbing harmful toxic substances from the soil, keeps the air clean, reduces the heat of the atmosphere and keeps the weather cool, absorbs air pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, the leaves of the trees prevent the movement of storms and winds, create rain and prevent desertification, maintaining the balance of the natural environment as well as making nature magical and beautiful. That is why more and more afforestation is very important and significant. Global warming is increasing day by day, desertification is increasing, carbon dioxide is increasing in the air, the amount of chlorofluoro carbon, methane and nitrous oxide which is harmful to biodiversity is among the problems we are constantly facing due to lack of sufficient forest land and trees. Increasingly, the weight of the atmosphere is cracking, allowing harmful ultraviolet rays to reach on Earth. Along with acid rain and rising temperatures, the sea level is rising due to the melting of ice in the polar regions and Antarctica. Bangladesh is among the most affected countries due to climate change and there is no alternative to massive afforestation.

For one, global warming has increased by 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past hundred years. If global warming continues like this, it is expected that the temperature of the earth will increase by 0.50 to 1.70 degrees Celsius by 2050. If the level of climate change increases like this, then the nature and environment will have to face many problems. Their rights to food security, clean water and natural resources, housing and other infrastructure facilities will be threatened, that's why scientists fear that in the next 50 years, due to the increase in the sea level, a large part of the coastal region of Bangladesh will disappear under the sea. Climate change will adversely affect Bangladesh's agriculture and food security, biodiversity, health, fresh water and coastal areas. Climate change will increase rainfall and flood, reduce food production by 30 percent and increase the number of hungry and poor, increase temperature and melt the Himalayan glaciers, we will face disaster.

The forest area under government control in Bangladesh is about 23 lakh hectares, which is about 15.58 percent of the country's total area. Out of this, the amount of forest land controlled by the Forest Department is about 16 lakh hectares, which is about 10.74 percent of the country's area.

Through the various activities undertaken by the government and the spontaneous participation of the people, the amount of land covered by trees in Bangladesh has increased to 22.37 percent of the total area of the country. The government is already taking various steps with the plan to raise it to more than 24 percent by 2025. But due to increasing population, unplanned urbanization, industrialization, expansion of agricultural land, housing etc. the forest area is shrinking. As a result, the country's forests and wildlife are under threat today.

As the life and livelihood of people are directly connected with forest resources, the protection of biodiversity, nature and environment are also inextricably linked with forest protection. In addition to the indiscriminate destruction of forests worldwide, the free release of carbon through uncontrolled industrialization by industrialized countries has not only resulted in climate change, but forests and wildlife in different regions of the world are under threat. As a result of indiscriminate destruction of forests, wildlife, especially elephants and tigers, are facing the threat of extinction. In addition, due to the destruction of natural forest areas one by one for the purpose of economic development through industrialization, global temperature increase and irregular rainfall are having a negative impact on the planting process and production of water-based agriculture in general, especially rice.

For this reason, there is no alternative to extensive afforestation and tree planting to protect against the warming, drought and desertification of nature due to climate change. It should be remembered that the trees and animals of the forest are our best friends, an invaluable resource for nature and environment, a watchman during natural calamities. The contribution of forest trees as a provider of food, clothing, nutrition, shelter, medicine, money is undeniable, as well as forest trees play an important role in protecting and developing the balance of the environment. The existence of fauna and flora is heavily dependent on forest resources and forests play the role of a vigilante during natural calamities. But the forest land in Bangladesh is very insignificant compared to the requirement. For this reason, importance should be given on extensive afforestation to protect nature, environment and biodiversity.

The writer is a Banker and Columnist

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