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Gobeshona 6: Friendship on Mangrove Plantation

Mangrove Plantation: A Climate Action by Friendship in Southern Bangladesh

The session titled “Mangrove Plantation: A Climate Action by Friendship in Southern Bangladesh” was hosted by Friendship at Gobeshona 6 Conference, organized by the International Centre for Climate Change And Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) today.

The moderator for this session was Mr. Kazi Amdadul Haque, Director Strategic Planning, Head, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Management (CCADM). They had Mrs. Habibun Nahar, MP, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as the chief guest. The Chair was Mr. Md. Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests (DCCF) Planning Wing, Bana Bhaban, Bangladesh Forest Department. The respective panelists were Mr. Raquibul Amin, Dr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, Mr. Muhammad Manjurul Karim, Mr. Akib Hasan, and Mr. Md. Tahseen Ahmed.

Mr. Raquibul Amin started off with alarming news that the Sundarbans had been listed among one of the most dangerous areas due to severe threats from coal fired power plants. He said that to ignore the future hazards, the government had allocated 40 hectares of land for Friendship so that they could execute their plan of mangrove plantation. 

In order to so, Friendship has some objectives which are:

  • To restore the ecosystem.
  • Combat land degradation.
  • Halt biodiversity loss in Satkhira district.
  • Provide job opportunities for women.

But the process isn’t that easy because they have some challenges as well, which are as follows:

  • Collecting mangrove seedlings.
  • Protecting forest areas from cattle or goats and during night when there is a possibility for boatmen to break the nets or pillars.
  • Transportation during the rainy season.

To execute the whole process, Friendship has been setting up meetings with the forest department and a number of individual groups where 40 community representatives are being employed. 

Thereafter, Mr. Muhammad Monjurul Karim came up on stage with his paper presentation on “Adaptation strategy for bringing salinity-prone coastal agriculture into cultivation using salt-tolerant plant-growth-promoting Rhizobacteria”. In his presentation he suggested that the way out for sustainable development was Bioinnovation and Bioeconomy. In his research, he also established that a solution called MS3 could be a prime reason for a plant’s long life, and it also increased the survival rate upto 45%. He concluded by saying “application of salt-tolerant bio-fertilizer could be a non-transgenic innovation to support plant growth for coastal lands, under changing climate conditions”.

Then, Mr. Akib Hasan started off his speech mentioning his study on surface level water content dynamics and associated climate change impacts in coastal areas of Bangladesh. Among 64 districts, he had studied 19 districts in this regard and finally had selected only 2 which were Satkhira and Bagerhat based on their high agricultural activity, economic importance and exposure to the sea. According to his study, Satkhira has experienced major shifts in surface water occurrences between 1984 to 2015. He also added that Bagerhat experienced more surface water loss compared to Satkhira. His study had shown that the shifts in water surface, i.e. cyclones had resulted in –

  • Damages to the dikes.
  • Shrinkage of crop land area.
  • Reduction of the production of different agricultural crops.
  • Extinction of freshwater and wild fish species.
  • Unsuitable land for agricultural production due to the salinity of water and soil.

On the other hand, in Bagerhat, the results were-

  • Inundation of low-lying crop land areas
  • Damages to the fishing equipment
  • Damages to agricultural crops.

 Finally, he concluded by saying that both of the areas experienced different types of effects on agricultural activities that resulted in reduction of agricultural productivity. He also stated that the rising sea level and shrimp farm expansion by man-made activities were threatening the overall food security of the country.

Afterward, Mr. Tahseen Ahmed talked about his concept on integrated coastal zone management in Nijhum Island, Bangladesh. In his concept, he mentioned some goals along with its problems. The mentioned goals were:

  • Maintaining functional integrity of coastal resources
  • Reducing resource use conflicts
  • Paving the ways of multi-sectoral development.

Whereas the problems were:

  • Deforestation
  • Absence of electricity
  • Lack of educational institution
  • Poor transportation system
  • Inadequate resource management.

Dr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, in his speech, stated that at the level of political perspective, science was being dismissed. He hadsuggested Mr. Muhammad Monjurul Karim to conduct an alternative to Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). He added that without focusing on the long term changes, science could not be respected. 

Mr. Rakibul Islam had emphasized more on the implementation of researches than just having research results. He mentioned how Friendship was creating a green belt through promoting afforestation and good governance. He simply said “planting the trees is easy but protecting the trees is not so easy”.

Lastly, Dr. Saleemul Huq basically emphasized on the implementation of research as well. After listening to all of the plans and projects that were presented in the session, he certainly mentioned the planning into action.   

At the very end of the session, the honorable chief guest, Mrs. Habibun Nahar reminisced about the Sundarbans. Her eyes filled with joy when she mentioned certain events that occured at the Sundarbans in her early days. She then explained how it was really important for everyone to save the Sundarbans and increase mangrove plantation. She simply concluded by saying that the Sundarbans lived in her heart and she would do her best to make it alright for the sake of a better environment to live in.

Safa Azad is an Environmental Management Student at Independent University, Bangladesh.

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