Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin today said UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has lauded the efforts of Bangladesh government taken to conserve the Sundarbans, the world largest mangrove forest.
The 45th extended session of the World Heritage Committee recently held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, appreciated the Bangladesh government’s initiatives in the Sundarbans conservation, he said.
“It was possible due to visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and relentlessly stride of the present government to protect the Sundarbans as a world heritage site,” the minister said at a press briefing at the Secretariat here.
The World Heritage Committee meeting extended its support for Bangladesh's continued efforts to save the Sundarbans resources by taking effective conservation measures, including planned afforestation, he said.
The meeting welcomed the decision of the government to cancel construction of six coal-based power plants, as part of the Nationally Determined Contributions (DNC) of carbon emission, he added.
Shahab Uddin said the World Heritage Committee praised Bangladesh for preparing the Strategic Environmental Management Plan in 2021 for minimising the impacts of development activities on the Sundarbans.
He said the committee also commended Bangladesh’s National Oil and Chemical Spill Contingency Plan 2020 and implementing it to mitigate the possible adverse effects in any emergency period.
Joint management activities in the Indian and Bangladeshi parts of the Sundarbans for biodiversity conservation were lauded and the committee requested for further strengthening the activities, he said.
Highlighting the government efforts in conservation of the Sundarbans, the minister said the government introduced smart patrolling system in the Sundarbans and it has already achieved a remarkable success in curbing criminal activities in the mangrove forest.
From January 2018 to June 2023, 2,498 suspected offenders were held and 1,169 trawlers/vessels were seized through smart patrolling, the minister told the briefing.
Four new ponds were excavated and 84 existing ponds were re-excavated to ensure freshwater for wild animals, Shahab Uddin said, adding that telecommunication system has been restored in camps, stations and ranges of the forest department.
He said the government is implementing six projects involving about Taka 296 crore for conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in the Sundarbans.
The environment and forest minister said the highest policy-making council of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee requested Bangladesh to take more research initiatives for sustainable management of the Sundarbans and ecological development of the soil and marine system of the forest.