Thursday, 1 December, 2022

Safeguard reserved forests

We depend on forests for our very survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for human beings, forests also mitigate climate change. Green forests are essential for people, climate and wildlife alike. The importance of forests cannot be underestimated in any way. Yet, despite our dependence on forests, we are allowing them to disappear fast. When we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go; the entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences for all of us.

Conservation of biodiversity is essential for wellbeing of people living now and in the generations to come. Seemingly, the government is well-aware of the seriousness of the grave situation. In an attempt to protect the biodiversity, a ban on cutting trees in the country's reserved and natural forests has been extended until 2030. Earlier, the ban was imposed till the end of the ongoing year. However, the official ban could not deter criminals from cutting trees of natural forests. It is going on unabated for years together.

Trees are reportedly being cut down indiscriminately to fuel brick kilns or for other purposes. The bad practice is going on through collusion between local influential quarters and forest officials who profit from cutting trees. So, mere imposition of ban on cutting trees will not suffice. Strict enforcement of law is a must curb the criminal offence. As far as we remember, it was in 2019, the High Court issued an injunction on the government to restrain it from felling trees for implementing its development projects in forests and forestlands for a considerable period.

As per experts, if trees are to be cut down for some reason, a new tree cover must soon be established in the affected region. This is important for Bangladesh where the total area of forestland has come down to merely 7-9 percent, whereas it is expected that a country should ideally have at least 25 percent forest coverage. Presently, many of our forests are at risk of being robbed of trees. The government must not allow this to continue. It must go tough on those who are indulging in the dangerous practice of felling trees at will.