Sundarbans to expand as govt focuses on preserving biodiversity, says Hasina

The government is taking steps to expand the Sundarbans with an emphasis on protecting the biodiversity of the world's largest mangrove forest, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

According to a camera trap survey, the tiger population in the forest also increased to 114 from 106 between 2015 and 2018, she told parliament on Wednesday.

Highlighting the government's initiative to expand the forest area by creating artificial mangroves, Hasina said, “We focus on not damaging the Sundarbans and its biodiversity when taking any measure for the development of Bangladesh."

"The initiative aims to expand the forest area to the entire coastal belt. Also, the government adopted smart patrolling and other steps to protect the flora and fauna in the Sundarbans and curb crimes there.”

The Sundarbans harbours a diverse array of vegetation and wildlife. In a bid to preserve the biodiversity of the area, forest officials are being trained using modern methods while the government is also assigning more officials to the forest.

Currently, 53 percent of the Sundarbans' total area is a designated wildlife sanctuary, Hasina said.

The government has also taken various initiatives to conserve sites of historical significance, including places where the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stayed and initiated the struggle for freedom, for posterity, she added.

“A sculpture will be erected at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan to mark the significance of Bangabandhu’s speech on March 7 (1971). A 150-feet tall glass tower has been built there. Monuments will be constructed at Rajganj Bazar in Jashore and Ambika Maidan in Faridpur in memory of Bangabandhu.”