A forestry project is being implemented here with the main thrust of checking desertification in the country's northwest region besides conserving biodiversity and other surrounding environment through a massive tree-sapling transplantation.
The scheme also intends to promote uses of surface water after reducing the gradually mounting pressure on groundwater through excavating and re-excavating of derelict ponds and other water bodies.
Department of Social Forestry (DSF) has been implementing the project titled "Eco-Restoration of the Northern Region of Bangladesh" in all 16 districts under Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions.
DSF divisional forest officer Imran Ahmed, told BSS that the four-year project is being implemented with an estimated cost of around Tk 247.9 million for establishing plantation aimed at biodiversity enhancement.
"We have already transplanted tree-saplings on more than 200-kilomter area under the project," he said adding that poor and underprivileged people were incorporated in the project activities for improving their socio-economic condition.
The programme has been designed to increase the number of surface water reservoirs using derelict water bodies to promote sustainable utilisation for facilitating irrigation, maintain a near constant water table, domestic use and watering of forest nurseries.
It has provision to increase tree coverage for biodiversity conservation and wildlife habitat restoration, supply of raw materials and contribute to the local firewood needs.
The profitable afforestation activities will encourage many people in planting adequate saplings of wood, medicinal and fruit- bearing plants at homesteads, roadsides, office premises, embankments, forest areas, religious institutions' premises and other places.
It will help to create sustainable employment generation for the poor women, landless population, destitute and underprivileged young generation.
To attain the goals, the scheme will excavate and re-excavate 130 ponds, canals and beels. It will also raise strip plantation on 1800 kilometres with varieties of eco-friendly fruit, forest and herbal tree which will create eco-tourism facilities.
Emphasis is being given to increasing the number of fruit and other tree cover area, timber production awareness and community participation in conservation and production.
The issue of raising awareness and capacity building among the community relating to land degradation and desertification will be given priority during implementation of the programme.
Significant number of small and marginal farmers will attain economic emancipation through the participatory intervention. On its successful completion by June 2019, the project will help restoration of plant and habitat biodiversity alongside increasing economic activities and employment opportunities.
Successful implementation of the social forestry programme always
supplement the government's poverty reduction effort beside facing the adverse impact of climate change in the drought-prone area, experts said.
Currently, social forestry is being adjudged as a tool for bringing about ecological and socioeconomic improvements. It also contributes to alleviating poverty in the dried region.
Many of the newly created gardens on various vacant places like river embankment, railway land, char area and roadside land are now eye-catching.
Positive ecological changes refer to a greater number of trees, more biomass production and beneficial ecological effects. Imran Ahmed, however, said mass awareness should be built up regarding planting more trees on all the vacant spaces.
There should be adequate measures of using surface water for irrigation purposes to ensure lessening the exorbitant pressure on ground water.