Trees will be planted on 9,400 acres of land in coastal areas, 1,800km of strip gardens will be built, says the ministry
The government plans to plant 72.7 million saplings by December 2021 to enhance the greenery of the country and tackle climate change.
Secretary of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Ziaul Hasan disclosed the information while speaking to Dhaka Tribune on the occasion of World Environment Day
“This year, we have set a target to plant 72.7 million saplings across the country through different projects. We will plant these trees in four categories: mangrove forestry in the coastal region, block gardening, strip gardening, and assisted natural regeneration or planting where already established greenery was affected,” he said.
The project is being funded by multiple channels of the Forest Department. The strip gardening project will be funded from the regular budget of the department, whereas the mangrove plantation program is being funded by the Sustainable Forests & Livelihoods (SUFAL) project.
“Work is underway to plant trees on 9,400 acres of land in coastal areas, and to construct 1,802km of strip gardens throughout the country,” Hasan added.
In July last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the planting of 10 million trees, nationwide, as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Regarding the progress of the 10 million tree initiative, Secretary Ziaul Hasan said: “We have successfully planted all 10 million trees, including forestry, fruit and medicinal saplings, in every corner of the country, as the prime minister promised.
“We distributed the saplings at the upazila level through our UNO officers under the supervision of district commissioners. We finished the project by September 2020,” he added.
“Apart from that, 5,000 saplings were provided to members of parliament for planting in their respective constituencies,” Hasan further said.
Welcoming the tree planting initiatives, Chattogram University forestry and environmental sciences department Prof Md Al Amin said: “Our governments have always taken a very strong position against deforestation. However, to reinstall our greenery, only afforestation is not enough.
“We are going through a constant wave of climate change. In this situation, before planting any trees, we need to consider if that tree is perfect for the climate of that area. Another thing to note is that we talk a lot about planting trees, but we don’t have any mortality data on those trees,” he added.
“It is estimated that at least 25% of the planted trees will not survive even in ideal conditions. Forest officials need to plant trees while keeping this in mind, or these huge initiatives will not be entirely fruitful,” Prof Amin further said.
To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, each state must have 25% forest coverage. As per the UN definition of forest, there should be trees in 10% of every hectare of land and their height should be at least 5 meters.
According to the World Statistics Pocket Book published by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations in October 2020, the total forest coverage of Bangladesh is 11% of the total area, as compared to 11.1% in 2010.
On the other hand, the Bangladesh Forest Inventory Report 2019 by the Department of Forest said the country had 22.5% forest coverage.
Explaining the confusion, Prof Amin said: “There is a difference between tree coverage and forestry. It is true that the greenery of Bangladesh has been increasing in the past few years, but that is not forestry. Our greenery has increased in terms of social and commercial tree plantation through things like household or rooftop gardening. The government has calculated all of this together.”
“Our tree coverage might have increased, but not forestry. Forestry can have a more substantial impact on the ecosystem of a country in terms of climate change. If our government works while keeping this target in mind, we will witness a resounding success,” he added.