Dhaka | May 29, 2004 4:46:29 PM IST
A Bangladesh parliamentary standing committee has asked concerned authorities to issue orders to stop felling trees in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, against the backdrop of reports suggesting a high rate of forest depletion in the area.
The directives came after the committee was informed that not preventing the felling of these trees could damage the ecosystem of the mangrove forest, which is also one of the world's largest wildlife sanctuaries.
The Sunderbans makes up 44 percent of Bangladesh's forest area (38,500 square kilometer of forest and wetland). Repeated warnings by the experts and officials are being ignored, as the Sundarbans provides employment to over 300,000 people.
It also home to a large number of plants, 20,000 kinds of animals, 315 species of birds, 400 species of fish, 53 species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians. The experts warn that diminishing plant life in the forest can jeopardize animals.
There were reports of a wholesale felling of trees in the name of elimination of infected Sundri trees from the forest, Munshi Anwarul Islam, the chief conservator of the forest (CCF), told Asian News International.
"We will take every measure necessary to protect the forest," he added.
Sundri trees, which constitute about 70 percent of the forest, have been withering away for the past 30 years. At least 20 per cent of them are afflicted with a disease that eventually kills them from the top down.
"There has to be a study on the change of ecosystem of the Sundarbans immediately, as there is no such study on this mangrove forest," said Dr.
Ainun Nishat, Bangladesh's representative at the International Union for The Conservation of Nature (IUCN).(ANI)