US envoy visits Sundarbans

Diplomatic Correspondent

29 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

US envoy visits Sundarbans

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Robert Miller visits the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. — Sun photo

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has visited the Sundarbans and witnessed US government-supported conservation activities contributing to the protection of the world’s largest mangrove forest and its biodiversity. 

He wrapped up his three-day visit to the mangrove forest on Tuesday.

The ambassador, accompanied by USAID Mission Director Derrick Brown, made the visit ahead of the World Wetlands Day scheduled to be observed on February 2 to highlight the importance of conserving the Sundarbans and its wildlife.

“Healthy ecosystems and protection from natural disasters are critical to developing a resilient Bangladesh,” said a press release of the US Embassy in Dhaka.

During the trip, US envoy Miller met Bangladesh Forest Department representatives at Harbaria and visited US government supported conservation activities contributing to the protection of the forest.

He also met students from Daffodil International University and representatives from the Bangladesh Forest Department to learn about their partnership and research in the Sundarbans. 

Miller visited Kotka with a doctoral student from the University of Delaware whose tiger conservation research is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  They also hiked part of the popular Kotka rail and learned about the role and impact of tourism in the Sundarbans.

On the final day of the visit, the US envoy met representatives of local civil society organisation Wild Team Limited to learn how conservation activities have continued beyond USAID’s $10.5 million Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity (Bagh), completed in 2018.        

On May 22, 2019, as a result of USAID’s Bagh activity and its coordinated effort to conserve the Sundarbans, Bangladesh Forest Department and USAID announced that the Bengal tiger population had stabilised and marginally increased from 106 tigers in 2015 to 114 in 2018.

He also met community volunteers, including village tiger response team, local tiger ambassadors, tiger scouts, co-management organizations, and community patrol group members.           

Through USAID’s Bagh and Climate Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods (CREL) activities in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, USAID helped train these community groups to conserve the Sundarbans and its diverse bio-diversity. CREL activities include supporting the planting of 565,000 mangrove seedlings on 512 hectares of land. Species planted include Kakra, Bine, Sundori, Keora and Golpata.

Support for conservation initiatives has played a fundamental role in preserving green space and the valuable ecosystems and biodiversity in the United States important to increasing US resilience. Such efforts provide similar benefits to Bangladesh, strengthening its capacity to respond to natural disasters and protect eco systems critical not only to Bangladesh but also the health of the planet. 

The US government is committed to continuing to support Bangladesh’s resilience to natural hazards and advancing U.S.-Bangladesh priorities.