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4 Forest Resources

The information about changes in and sustainability of forest resources helps to understand the ecosystem dynamics and stability. This chapter attempts to describe the state and change in forest resources of Bangladesh. It presents information on type, land, cover, and content of the forests.

4.1 General

Public forest lands account for about 14.9% and the village forests for another 1.8% of the area of the country. To mitigate the scarcity of forest resources and their fast deforestation, the government has decided to raise forest area to 20% of national area, and to increase extent of Protected Area network from 5% of total forest area to 10%. The 1989 moratorium on tree felling to conserve the health of forest is still operative.

4.2 Landuse

The share of forest land in total national area during 1970s remained around 15%, and fell to about 14% during 1980s, and slipped further to about 13% during 1990s (Fig. 3). The government statistics (SYB, 1997) provides national level and sub national level information on landuse in three major categories (Agriculture, Forest, and Area not available for cultivation).

Fig. 3. Percentage of alternative landuse

The area under "Agriculture" is total of three sub-categories (Net cropped area, Current fallow, and Culturable waste (fallow for more than a year). The "Agriculture" has been able to maintain its share at about 66% of total area of the country during 1970s and 1980s but its share has fallen to about 59% during 1990s. The share of land under "other uses" like settlements, homestead, and rivers etc. has consistently risen over the past period (Table 1 at Appendix).

The information on "landuse" differs even within the same reference available for Bangladesh like SYB, 1997. For example, the "forest land" reported above differs with details on legal status of forest land in SYB, 1997. Further both these figures of SYB, 1997 differ with figures reported by the forest department.

SYB, 1997 does not provide a composite information on landuse, therefore, an attempt has been made (Table 2 at Appendix) to develop a detailed composite picture (Fig. 4) of landuse in 1996 by pooling information available from different sources. The forest land figures for 1996 have been assumed same as forest department figures for the forest land in 1999. All adjustments have been made in the category "Other".

Fig. 4. National Landuse in 1996

4.3 Forests

The forests of Bangladesh are broadly classified into three categories based on the topographic conditions (a) Hill forests, (b) Plain Sal forests, and (c) Mangrove Littoral forests. The hill forests contain most of the productive forest areas and plain Sal forests the least. In terms of forest land under forestry use (Table 3 at Appendix), the Hill forests contribute 508, 991 ha (45.4%) followed by the Littoral Mangrove Forests and Coastal Afforestation extending over 489,872 ha (43.7%), and Plain Sal Forest account for the rest 121, 884 ha (10.9%) of the forest area.

4.3.1 Hill Forests

The Hill Forests are ecologically more important and constitute more than half of the forests of the country. Ecologically, these hill forests constitute a transition between the Indian subcontinent floristic region and the Indo-China floristic region. They consist of moist tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, which extend from Teknaf Peninsula, north along Myanmar border to the Chittagong Hills and Hill Tracts and the low hills in Sylhet district. The "Forest Types of Pakistan" by Champion, Seth and Khatak provides detailed information on these hill forests.

The forests are generally uneven-aged and multistoried. Pure stands of single species do not occur. The majority of smaller understory trees are evergreen and most of the dominant trees are deciduous. Choudhury, 1990 and de Milde et al, 1985 categorize these forests into following seven general forest sub-types (Tropical wet evergreen, Tropical mixed evergreen, Tropical moist deciduous, Tropical open deciduous, Bamboo, Lowland fresh water swamp, and Savanna).

(i) Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests

This subtype occurs in deep valleys with abundant moisture and shaded aspects. Artocarpus chaplasha (Chaplish), Tetramefes nudiflora (Chundal), Pterygota alata (Narikeli) are common and reach a height of about 30meters. The fern, orchids, climbers, creepers, shrubs form the understory.

(ii) Tropical Mixed Evergreen

These are tall multistoried forests on hilly and alluvial flats. The dominant trees are about 60-65 meters high and consist of Depterocarpus species (Garjan), Swintonia floribunda (Civit), Chundal and Narikeli. Middle and lowerstory story of trees is present with diverse understory.

(iii) Tropical Moist Deciduous

Such forests occur on the edge of rivers and in low lying areas. Trees are interspersed with large open patches of grasses, reeds and bananas. The main tree species are deciduous like Anthocephalus chinensis (Kadam), Trewia nudiflora (Pitali) and Duabanga grandiflora (Bandarhola).

(iv) Tropical Open Deciduous

The dry exposed slopes with a southern aspect sustain such type of forests. Large trees occur as scattered individuals and main species are Albizzia species (Karoi), pitali, bandarhola and Michelia champaca (Champa). The understory consists of dense undergrowth of stunted evergreen tree species and impenetrable tangle of stems of Eupatorium odoratum (Assam).

(v) Bamboo

Bamboo is a very important non-wood forest resource in Bangladesh. About 70% of bamboo resources are on private lands in the villages. The rest of the bamboo is in forest areas but it accounts for only about 20% of annual national supply of bamboo. Forests in Chittagong Hill Districts are the richest in bamboo, followed by Sylhet district. The bamboo in forest areas of Bangladesh is managed on a 3 to 4 year cutting cycle. Bamboo is present either as single or mixture of different bamboo species in almost all the forests in the Chittagong Hill Tracts or in Sylhet Division. Eight species are indigenous and four (Muli, Mitenga, Daloo and Orah) of them are commercially important. The Melocanna baccifera (Muli) bamboo is most predominant and occurs either as a pure stand or in association with other species over extensive areas. Muli prefers well drained sites while the other species prefer shaded moist sites. Bamboo also occurs as an understory specie in many of the other forest types.

(vi) Lowland Fresh water Swamp

The characteristic tree species is Barringtonia acutangula (Hijal), and the characteristic grasses and reed are Phragmites karka (which predominates near water), Erianthus revenea (Ekhra) and Saccharum spontaneum. (Khagra). A variety of grassland and wetland ecosystems are found in such areas like wetland areas of Sylhet District. The tree cover is greatly reduced but the grassland and wetlands remain very important for many species of birds and fish. Some small patches of freshwater swamp forest can also be seen in Sunamganj district and at Pasua Haor in Gurmar Beel.

Although the fresh water swamp forests described above have nearly disappeared, a vast area of fresh water wetlands exists in the country. The wetlands include lakes, the Ganges-Brahmaputra flood plain, river estuaries and at least 47 major haors and 6,300 beels. They occupy about half the land area of the country in the monsoon season. These fresh water wetlands support a wide variety of species of fauna and flora, both terrestrial and aquatic. For example, Haor Basin of Sylhet and eastern Mymensingh have special biological significance. This area is described as "a wetland ecosystem of outstanding international significance" especially as waterfowl habitats. These wetlands provide habitat for about 125 species of resident and migratory water birds as well as a diversity of aquatic and terrestrial plants, aquatic invertebrates, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. In the winter they support 100,000-150,000 ducks and provide refuge for many species rare elsewhere in the country. At present, no fresh water wetlands are protected and there is no management plan for such wetlands.

(vii) Savanna

Many ecologists do not consider the Savanna as a natural ecosystem. It is dominated by thick Impretta species (Sungrass). It is more common in Unclassified State Forest (USF) areas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

4.3.2 Plain Sal Forest Types

Plain Sal forests are Tropical Moist Deciduous type of forests. Such forests are normally present in most of the lowlands and floodplains in the central and western parts of the country. Plain Sal forests have been dramatically reduced in area and now exist only in a number of widely scattered and degraded patches. The forests consist of patches of Sal coppice occasionally with other tree species. These forests lie in the districts of Dhaka, Tangail, Mymensingh, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Rajshahi. The district of Comilla also has a small patch of Sal Forest. A large proportion of land under plain Sal forest is under the possession of encroachers. These forests are generally categorized in following two subtypes (Pure Sal, and Mixed Sal) on the basis of soil and tree canopy.

(i) Pure Sal

In past, these forests, even under natural conditions, had a canopy that was nearly 100 percent Sal and grew on shallow, dry and less productive soils in the region to the north of Dhaka and was frequently burned. Such pure Sal forests now exist only in coppice form with sparse understory and the relatively few number of species.

(ii) Mixed Sal

These forests are dominated by Sal in the canopy but include many other associated species like Terminalia bellerica, Albizzia procera, Lagerstroemia spp and Ficus species. They grow on the deeper, moister and more productive soils of the Madhupur and Barind tract. The understory is more complex and includes a variety of deciduous and evergreen species. The flora of the Barind Tract in this Sal forest type includes about 271 species out of which 41 are tree species.

Champion, Seth and Khatak (1955) classify these forests as Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests and subdivide the same into two sub-types; (a) Moist Sal forests and (b) Sal Scrub Forests. The Moist Sal forests are severely depleted leaving some sporadic intact patches of natural and coppiced Sal forests. The Sal scrub forests are the result of extreme human interference. The Sal has been coppiced many times and many stumps have lost their coppicing power, creating small and big blanks.

4.3.3 Littoral Mangrove Forest Types

These forest areas are normally divided into following three groups (Sunderbans, Coastal Char forests, Coastal Area from Chokoria to Teknaf) to describe the vegetation at the southern boundary of Bangladesh.

(i) Sunderbans

The Sundarbans are the mangrove forests of Bangladesh, lying at the southern extremity of the Ganges River Delta bordering the Bay of Bengal. The forests extend to about 80 km north of the sea. The forests stretch from the Baleswar River on the east to the Hoogly River. The littoral forests normally form three distinct belts. The outer fringe near the sea consists of pure mangroves, which in the Sundarbans, is very limited, though Goran forms nearly forest on the higher grounds. The intermediate belt has various trees mixed with mangroves, with or without Sundri. The inner belt is of pure or nearly pure Sundri.

The Sundarbans is normally divided into three zones fresh water (slightly saline), moderately salt water (moderately saline) and the salt water (strongly saline) zones.

The slightly saline zone includes north-east part of the forest, which receives fresh water supply from the Ganges and supports the best stand growing upto a height of 20 meters. The dominant specie is Heritiera fomes with varying proportion of Excoecaria agallocha (Gewa). The proportion of Gewa increases and of Heritiera decreases, as one proceeds to the west and south. The species next in importance is Xylocarpus mekongensis (Passur), which frequently grows with Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (Kankra). Beneath Sundri are Cynometra ramiflora (Singra)on comparatively dry soils, and Amoora cucullata (Amur) on moist soils. Ceriops decandra (Goran) becomes the principal understory in more saline areas. Nypa fruticans (Golpatta) is plentiful on the banks of channels and creeks.

The moderately saline zone is in the middle portion of the forest. The predominant crop consists of Heritiera fomes and Gewa. Sundri decreases towards west and south. Passur, Kankra and Avicennia officinalis (Baen) are unevenly distributed over the entire area and Golpatta is plentiful.

The south and western part of the forest has the strongly saline zone. With increase in salinity the quality of the forest deteriorates and height hardly exceeds 7 meters. The forest consists mainly of sparsely spaced Gewa and over dense Goran interspersed with dense patches of Phoenix paludosa (Hantal) on the drier soils. Xylocarpus granatum (Dhundal), Passur and Kankra occur sporadically throughout the area. Golpatta is scarce.

(ii) Coastal Char Lands

The coastal area of Bangladesh west of the Sundarbans from the Haringhata River to Sandwip Island is characterized by rapidly accreting sand and mudflats and low lying offshore islands in the mouth of the Ganges River. These newly accreted lands are in early successional stage of mangrove forest following deposition of the silt and sand washed down by the rivers. Sonneratia apetala (Keora) is the common pioneer tree specie. As these stands decline, Gewa, Sundri, Baen and other species take over the sites.

The rich intertidal mudflats are extremely important as wintering areas for migratory waterfowl. Surveys have counted over 100,000 birds of 61 species. The area gains international significance because at least three globally threatened species use the area in significant numbers. About 300 Tringa gutiffer (Nordmann's Greenshank) live on mudflats near Jiryiradwip. This number accounts for an estimated 30 percent of the world population of the species. This area supports about 257 of the very rare and globally threatened Eurynorhynchus pygmaeus (Spoonbilled Sandpipers) the largest concentration of this specie, away from its breeding ground. Two more threatened species Limnodromus semipalmatus (Asian Dowitcher) and Rynchops albicollis (Indian Skimmer) have been located in this area,

(iii) Coastal Forest Area from Chokoria to Teknaf

The coastline of Bangladesh to the south of Chittagong includes several estuaries and the offshore islands of Kutubdia, Sonadia and Moheshkhali. In the past, this area was covered with mangrove forest and provided habitat for a rich variety of invertebrates, resident and migratory waterfowl and shore birds, gulls and tens. Most of this forest has been cleared and is used either as shrimp farms or for other aquaculture projects. Many of them have failed economically or were destroyed or badly damaged by the 1991 cyclone.

4.4 Forest Land and Cover

The public forest land (classified and unclassified forest land) merely represents an administrative or legal landuse category of government-owned land, once covered by forests, and currently it may not have tree cover (Table 4 at Appendix). During, 1999, the forest department has reported about 2213,600 ha of legal public forest land (Fig 5) and about 270,000 ha of private land (village forest/homesteads) having varying degree of tree cover, bringing total forest land in Bangladesh to about 2,483,600 ha.

Fig.5. Constituents of public forest land in 1999

There is no complete and detailed forest landuse information of the entire country for any particular year or period because the landuse within "forest land" has been assessed for parts of the forests at different time periods. FMP, 1992 compiled such earlier assessments and updated some of them for the period 1985 to 1988 with local information and presented forest landuse for the reference year 1986. During 1999, the FRA, 2000 program of FAO has similarly compiled (Table 5 at Appendix) the latest information available for 1996 for national land use in Bangladesh. Table 6 at Appendix provides same information at forest unit level. It indicates (Fig. 6) that within the public forest land only about 14.6 % percent is closed forest (more than 40% crown density), 19.1 percent is open forest (10 to 40% crown density), and 11.6 percent is plantation.

Fig. 6. Landuse in public forests

The rest (54.7 percent) of the forest land is either under miscellaneous (7.7%) uses like shrub (1.7%), fallow (1.2%), blank and encroached (3.5%), and water-bodies etc. (1.3%) or under non-forestry uses (47%).

4.5 Change in Forest Cover

A comparison of 1986 (FMP, 1992) and 1996 (FRA, 2000) information (Table 7 at Appendix) provides a picture of decadal changes (Fig. 7) that are taking place on the forest land. To present the information in a meaningful and comparative framework, all forest land other than that under closed forest, plantation, protected areas, blank and encroachment have been grouped as "Other Forests" in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7. Changes on the Forest land during last decade

During the period of ten years ending 1996, the forest cover in Bangladesh has declined. More than half of the close (medium to good density) forests have either degraded to poor density forests (other forests) or deforested and encroached. Some of the "other forests" have also been deforested and encroached. Area under plantations in Coastal Afforestation divisions has declined by more than 25%. The protected area in two of the three wildlife sanctuaries in Sunderbans has also gone down by 10 to 30 percent while the total area under PAs has increased. Forest cover losses in Bangladesh remain unsurveyed or unmapped and their exact sizes and locations are not conclusively determined, except for periodic visual observations (FMP, 1992).

4.6 Forest Growing Stock

Different forest units of Bangladesh have been surveyed and inventoried in different years and under different designs. This creates problem in aggregating the information over space and time. Following provides information on the latest surveys and inventories for different forests of Bangladesh.

Kassolong and Rankhiang Reserves

Forestal carried out an inventory of the Kassalong (including Maitani Headwater) and Rankhiang Reserves of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1961. Twenty years later in 1983, the areas were reinventoried under Project BGD/79/017, "Assistance to the Forestry Sector of Bangladesh". The project took aerial photographs of the same areas but carried out the survey without any ground truthing due to the abnormal law and order situation. All volume figures were compiled on the basis of earlier volume figures collected by Forestal. This provides information on the last assessment for this forest and no other information is available to assess changes during the last ten years. Forestal estimated the volumes for timber type forests as 136.6 m3/ha for Kassalong and 171.5 m3 /ha for Rankhiang. The FMP (1992) team revised this figure to 100 m3 /ha for purposes of the yield calculation based on the figure of past extraction.

Sitapahar Reserves

The Forestal excluded the Sitapahar Reserve from their 1961 inventory of the forests of Rankhiang and Kassalong. This area was last surveyed in 1983/85 under FAO/UNDP Project BGD/79/017. This provides information on the last assessment of this forest and no other information is available to assess changes during the last ten years. The FMP (1992) team reviewed the position in 1990.

Sangu and Matamuhuri Reserves

Sangu and Matamuhuri reserves were inventoried before 1961 and again in 1984-85 under FAO/UNDP Project BGD/79/017. This provides information on the last assessment for this forest and no other information is available to assess changes during last ten years. The FMP (1992) team reviewed the figures in 1990.

Chittagong Forests

FAO supported inventory of Chittagong Forest in 1985 and FMP (1992) team reviewed this information in 1992. The division was re-inventoried in 1996. The results are presented at Table 8 at Appendix. A comparison with the 1985 inventory indicates that closed forest have decreased from 30,003 in 1985 to 22,223 ha in 1996 and the total volume has gone down from 2.27 million m3 in 1985 to 0.648 million m3 in 1996.

Cox's Bazar Forest

FAO project (FAO/BGD/85/085) supported inventory of these forests in 1985. FMP (1992) team reviewed and revised the figures on the basis of area under different forest types in concerning working plans. The division was re-inventoried in1996. The results are presented at Table 8 at Appendix. A comparison with the 1985 inventory indicates that closed forest have decreased from 31,295 ha in1985 to 26,867 ha in 1996 and the total volume has gone down from 3.70 million m3 in 1985 to 2.2 million m3 in 1996.

Sylhet Forest Division

FAP project (FAO/BGD/85/085) completed the inventory of the Sylhet forests in 1988. FMP (1992) team reviewed the figures in 1990s and the forest division was inventoried in 1997. Table 8. at Appendix contains the results of last inventory. A comparison with the 1988 inventory indicates that closed forest have roughly remained the same at about 2,749 ha in 1988 and 2,782 ha in 1996. However, area under scattered trees has decreased from 23, 239 in 1988 to 20,911ha in 1996 and the total volume has gone down to 1.26 million m3 in 1996. In Sylhet the bamboo (muli) resources have decreased from about 17,000 stems to 11,000 stems per hectare over the last eight to ten years.

Dhaka, Tangail, Mymensingh, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Comila

Dhaka, Tangail and Mymensingh divisions in the Central Zone, and Dinajpur, Rangpur and Rajshahi in the northern zone are the major Sal areas in Bangladesh. In addition, small patches of such forests occur in Comilla district. There is no complete and accurate inventory of these Sal coppice forests varying from 10 to 50 years in age. A few older stands are exist in small patches near offices. An inventory of 1989 has assessed the stock volume/hectare according to age groups. These estimates vary from 20 m3/ha to more than 100 m3/ha, depending on the age, density and site quality (FAO, 1990). These figures represent the last assessment and no other information is available to assess the changes during last ten years. The FMP (1992) team reviewed these estimates in 1990s.

Littoral Mangrove (Sunderbans) Forests

Sunderbans are the largest patch of forests (about 43% of the total natural forest) in Bangladesh. In 1996, Sunderbans have been surveyed to provide latest information about its forest resources (Table 8 at Appendix). Sunderbans have been earlier inventoried in 1933 by Curtis, 1959 by Forestal, and 1985 through ODA. Fig. 8 indicates the deterioration in the growing stock (volume) of its tree resources during last four decades.

Fig. 8. Growing stock in Sunderbans


Following Fig. 9 attempts to present the above deterioration in forest resources of Sunderbans through number of trees per hectare. It highlights the decline in trees of two main tree species (Sundri and Gewa) of Sunderbans.

Fig. 9. Number of trees in Sunderbans

Coastal Afforestation (CA) Areas

The 1996 inventory (Table 9 at Appendix) indicates that the area under CA has decreased substantially from the last assessment (FMP, 1992) in all the four (Chittagong, Noakhali, Patuakhali, and Bhola) CA divisions (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10. Decline in area of Coastal Afforestation Divisions

Village forests

Village forests are very important suppliers of forest products in Bangladesh. Some studies like Douglas, 1981 indicate that these forests contribute about 80 to 82% of forest products. Hammermaster (1981) surveyed the village forests in 1981, and the FMP, 1992 resurveyed them in 1991. Fig. 11 presents the broad composition of these forests.

Fig. 11 Composition of village forests

The FMP, 1992 provides the latest information on bamboo and trees including palms in the village forests (Table 10 at Appendix). It assesses that the village forests cover about 270,000 ha and contain about 444 million mature and about 611 million immature culms of bamboo, and about 198 million trees (fruit, fuelwood, shade, and other multipurpose trees) with 0.54 million M3 volume. Further that these forests have about 469 million (mature and immature) palms of four main varieties (Tal, Khejor, Coconut, and Betelnut) and contain about 4.6 million clumps of canes. FMP, 1992 also found large number of less valued horticultural plants like Banana (368 million), Lebu (14.6 million) and Peara (14.19 million). Fig 12 presents changes in stock of bamboo during 1981 and 1992 (Table 11 at Appendix).

Fig. 12. Change in growing stock of bamboo

The number of trees has increased during last ten years but their volume has remained roughly the same (Fig 13) indicating a decline in large diameter trees and increase in small diameter trees in the village forests (Table 12 at Appendix).

Fig. 13. Change in growing stock of trees

4.7 Annual Yield

Public forests mainly meet large commercial and industrial needs. Current annual estimated yield from forests is between 8 to 9 million M3 of round wood. Privately owned trees and bamboo resources supply more products than the public forests. Harvesting on private land by individual owners, timber traders and contractors accounts for the bulk of wood production. The actual supply from public forests may be more than the above (8 to 9 million M3) level due to illegal felling. The FMP (1992) observes a significant amount of illegal felling (20-60%) over the regulated yield.

4.8 Biomass Production

The FMP (1992) expects annual round wood supply to increase up to the level of 11.2 million M3 in 2015. This estimation assumes an increasing future reliance on plantation wood supplies and a corresponding decline in relative forest sawlog availability. The share of plantation sawlogs and pulpwood may go up to 30%. Another expected significant change is the large increase of pole material. Table 44 at Appendix provides consolidated information about the capacity of forest resources of Bangladesh to supply roundwood.

The total potential of supply of Bamboo is about 722 million culms. The contribution of public forests is estimated at about 194 million culms and that of village forests at about 528 million culms (FMP, 1992).

4.9 Biological diversity

Systematic information on biodiversity at all levels and particularly at ecological and genetic level is limited for Bangladesh. Base line information is not available to estimate trends. Most of the original natural habitat areas have been lost. Bangladesh has a large number of species (about 1,500 flowering plants, and 1,500 vertebrates) and many of them are currently threatened. Most of the biodiversity is confined to protected areas. About 968 species belonging to 812 genera and 501 families have been identified within the protected areas (Rosario, 1997). Table 13 at Appendix provides number of species, their genera and families that have been identified within each protected area of Bangladesh.

4.10 Conservation of Biodiversity

Bangladesh has signed the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna in 1973. She is signatory to the Ramsar Convention and the World Heritage Convention. The Bangladesh Wildlife (Preservation) Act, 1974, the Forest Act, 1927 (amended in 1989), the Fish Act, 1950, and the Environment Protection Act, 1995 provide legal support for biodiversity conservation in the country.

The 1994 IUCN Red List contains 65 wildlife species (reptiles, birds and mammals, no amphibian in the list) and the Bangladesh National Herbarium lists 33 threatened flowering plants for the country. Apart from the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) the financing for biodiversity activities comes from international agencies like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, CIDA, USAID, NORAD, JICA, and ODA etc. Various projects like the Forest Resources Management Project, the Development of Wildlife Conservation and Management Project, the National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project, Phase-I, and the National Environmental Management Action Program are under implementation for the conservation and preservation of wildlife and biodiversity.

4.11 Protected Areas

The Protected Area network of Bangladesh (Fig 14) consists of one game reserve, five national parks, and seven wildlife sanctuaries (Table 14 at Appendix). Bangladesh has managed to develop these protected areas in three out of the four bio-geographic zones. These PAs conserve a very large extent of the biodiversity present in the forests of Bangladesh. They span about 164,660 ha or about 1.11 percent of the geographical area.

Fig. 14. Composition (Area) of PAs

The extent of PAs in Bangladesh is well below the target of 5 percent established by the Wildlife Task force in 1986 and the target of 12 percent recommended by the World Commission on Environment and Development. Four wildlife sanctuaries (Pablakhali and 3 WS in Sunderbans) alone constitute more than 75% of the total Protected Area in Bangladesh. Management plans guide the conservation and development of each PA (Rosario, 1997 a, 1997b) and Bangladesh Wildlife Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1974 provides the legal cover to these areas. The following sections describe main PAs.

Teknaf Game Reserve (TGR)

This game reserve was established through gazette notification of November 1, 1983 with an area of 11,615 ha. Currently, forests extend over an area of 10,225 ha (Rosario, 1997). It supports evergreen and some semi-evergreen forests and falls under the Tropical Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen Forest Bio-geographic Zone (TESEFBZ).

The TGR contains both high tree type and low bushy type of forests. The high type forest is dominated by Grewia microcos, Pterospermum acerifolium, Artocarpus Chaplasha, and Dipterocarpus turbinatus mixed with other species such as Albizia procera and Artocarpus lachucha. The low forest type is generally bushy to brushy vegetation composed of mixed species such as Ficus heterophylla, and Mocaranga denticulata. The undergrowth in both types comprises of saplings, and shrub species such as Melastroma malabathrica, Mussaenda glabrata, and Pavetta indica. The TGR has palms like Caryota urens, grasses like Thysanolaena maxima, and Melocanna baccifera, climbers like Mikania cordata, Discorea glabra, and Thurbegia grandiflora, and herbs like Eupatorium odoratum, Curculigo recurvata, and Calocasia nymphaefolia. The TGR contains some patches of industrial tree plantations that form part of the remaining forest in the area. The TGR contains a considerably high floral diversity with about 112 vascular plant species of 95 genera and 66 families (Table 15 at Appendix).

The TGF has mammal species like Elephas maximus, Aonyx cinerea, Canis aureus, and Cuon alpinus, bird species like Dicrurus aeneus, Pycnonotus cafer, Psittachula alexandri, and Dinopium bengalense, reptile species like Mabuya carinata, and Gekko gecko, and amphibians species like Rana cyanophyctis, and Garrulax moniligerus.

Four main habitat types (high forest, low forest, grassland and water body) have been identified in TGR. The high and low forests are the major habitat types in terms of extent or size. Table 16 at Appendix summarizes the area of different habitat types in TGR against reported area of 11,615 ha. The forest habitat is preserved for the folivorous and frugivorous arboreal, and hoofed animals in the area. Uncontrollable harvesting of forest products and clearing of areas for cultivation are adversely affecting the wildlife habitat.

Himchari National Park (HNP)

The GIS database under RIMS of BFD estimates the current area of HNP as 7,935 ha. It consists of evergreen forest and comes under the Tropical Evergreen and Semi Evergreen Forest Biogeographic Zone (TESEFBZ). The remaining natural forest embraced by the Park is characterized by the presence of dominant tree species such as Grewia microcos, Dipterocarpus turbinatus, Vitex pedurcularis, Pterospermum acerifolium and others. The shrub species like Mussaenda corymbosa, Lantana camara, and Grewia glabra, grass species such as Melocalamus compactiflorus, Neohouzeaua dulloa, climbers like Discorea glabra, Paederia foetida, and Derris marginatta , and herbs like Swintonia floribunda, Curculigo recurvata, and Alpinia nigra are present in HNP.

The HNP supports important mammal species like Elephas maximus, Felis viverrina, Herpestes auropunctatus, and Lutra lutra, bird species like Hirundo rustica, Cypsiurrus parvus, and Acridotheres fuscus, reptile species like Mabuyacarinata, and Gekko gecko, and amphibians such as Xenochrophis piscatar, Varanus bengalensis.

The HNP has three main habitat types (high forest, low forest, and grassland with scattered trees). The high forest is in the Bhangamura south sub-block on the south of Bhangamura creek, and the low bushy type forest is located in the Bhangamura north sub-block. The grassland habitat type are scattered on gently sloping areas and on top of low ridges and serves as the habitat of foraging hoofed mammals in the area. These areas are the remnants of the early land clearings done in the forest block. Table 17 at Appendix provides information on area under different habitat types. The HNP contains about 117 vascular plant species of 103 genera and 75 families (Table 18 at Appendix).

Bhawal National Park (BNP)

The BNP was established on May 11, 1982. The GIS database of BFD estimates the current area as 5,022 ha. The park is in Dry Deciduous Forest Biogeographic Zone (DDFBZ). The BNP is dominated by Shorea robusta (Sal) mixed with a few evergreen medium-sized tree species such as Antidesma ghaesembilla, Phyllanthus embelica, Syzygium fruticosum, and Zizyphus mauritiana, and shrubs like Leea crispa, Melastoma malabathrica, Mimosa pudica, Croton caudatus, Anisomeles indica and others. The BNP has climbers such as Dioscorea glabra, Hermidesmus indicus, and Ichnocarpus frutescens, and herbs like Agerathum conyzoides, Achyranthes aspera, Desmodium heterophyllum, and Adenosma capitatum.

Some important mammal species like Callosciurus pygerythrus, Canis aurens, Pteeropus giganteus, and Macaca mulatta; bird species like Acridotheres tristis, Turdoides caudatus, and Sturmus contra, reptile species like Calotes versicolor, Mabuya carinata, Gekko gecko, and Varanus bengalensis, and amphibians like Rana tigrina live in BNP.

The BNP has three habitat types (low forest, cultivated paddies and grassland, and water body). The low forest habitat includes the entire forest, which generally serves as the main habitat of arboreal animals in the Park. The Park contains low forest type with Sal generally comprising the upper layer of canopy. The undergrowth is comprised of Sal coppice and few shrub species. The grassland habitat type is generally flooded during the monsoon season and generally dries during the rest of the year. The lake and riverine habitat type supports some introduced fish species, water birds, and amphibians. Table 19 at Appendix provides details of area under different habitat types. The BNP has about 225 vascular plant species of 164 genera and 73 families (Table 20 at Appendix)

Madhupur National Park (MNP)

The MNP was established on 24 February 1982. It comes under the Dry Deciduous Forest Biogeographic Zone (DDFBZ), and forms part of the strip of Sal forest that extends down to North Dhaka. The current area in GIS database is about 8,438 ha.

The forest of MNP is dominated by Sal tree with other tree species like Grewia laevigata, Zizyphus oenoplia, Phyllanthus embelica, Terminalia belerica and others. The shrub consists of species like Leea crispa, Glycosmis arborea, Thespesia lampa, and Urena lobata. The MNP has climbers such as Mucuna pruriens, Fucus scandens, Pothas scandens, and Smilax macrophylla, and herbs like Ageratum conyzoides, Desmodium gangeticum, Cleome viscosa, and Clerodendrum viscosum.

The important mammal species present in MNP include Macaca mulatta, Presbytis pileatus, Callosciurus pygerythrus, Canis aureus, and Pteropus giganteus. The bird species like Dicrurus adsimilis, Acridotheres tristis, Psittacula alexandri, and Egretta garzeta, the reptile species such as Calotes versicolor, Varanus bengalensis, and Gekko gecko, the amphibians like Rana tigrina and Rana cyanophlyctis are present in MNP.

MNP has three habitat types (low forest, cultivated paddies and grassland, and water body). The low forest contains Sal in its upper canopy and Sal coppice and few shrub species in its lower canopy. The cultivated paddies and grassland habitat type is partly flooded during the monsoon season and generally dries during the rest of the year. The lake and riverine habitat type include introduced fish species, water birds, and amphibians. Table 21 at Appendix provides details of 176 vascular plant species of 141 genera and 72 families identified in MNP.

Rema-Kalenga Wild life Sanctuary (RKWS)

According to GIS database the RFWS extends over 1,795 ha. The RKWS has primary forest falling under the Tropical Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen Forest Biogeographic Zone (TESEFBZ). The forest consists of primary tree species such as Artocarpus chaplash, Dillenia pentagyna, Bursera serrate, Castanopsis tribuloides, and Dipterocarpus turbinatus, shrub species like Macaranga roxburghii, Adhataoda zeylanica, Leea crispa, Schimawallichii, and Carya arborea, bamboo species such as Bambusa polymorpha, Bambusa tulda, and Bambusa longispiculata, grass species such as Melocanna baccifera, Daemonorops jenkinsiana, and Saccharum spontaneum, climber species like Piper sylvestre, Smilax macrophylla, and Dioscorea bulbifera, and herbs like Curculigo orchioides, and Alpinia nigra.

The RKWS supports mammal species like the Muntiacus muntik, Sus scrofa, Hylobates hoolock, and Macaca mulatta, bird species such as Nectarinia zeylonica, Psittacula alexandri, and Gallus gallus, reptile species like Mabuya carinata, Chrysopelea ornata, Cuora amboioensis, and Varanus bengalensis, and amphibians species such as Rana cyanophlyctis, and Bufo melanostictus. The RKWS contains about 69 vascular plant species of 60 genera and 45 families (Table 22 at Appendix).

RKWS has four habitat types (high forest, low forest, cultivated paddies and grassland, and water body). The high and low forests are the major habitat types in terms of land area. The high forest type is dominated by Artocarpus chaplasha, Dipterocarpus turbinatus, and Elaeocarpus floribundaas etc. mixed with other species such as Dillenia pentagyna and Castanopsis tribuloides. The low forest type consists of mixed species such as Garcinia cowa, Bauhinia oenminata and others. The undergrowths in both types are generally comprised of saplings, and shrub species such as Schima wallichii, Careya arborea and others. The grassland habitat type is partly flooded during the monsoon season and is generally dry during the rest of the year. The water body harbours some introduced fish species, and water birds, and amphibians.

Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS)

The CWS was established through gazette notification of March 18, 1986. The GIS database of forest department estimates the current area as 7,410 ha. The forest belongs to the Tropical Evergeen and Semi-Evergreen Forest Biogeographic Zone (TESEFBZ). The natural forest comprises of tree species like Anacissue lanceolata, Phyllanthus reticulatus, Ficus hispida, and Grewia microcos, shrub species like Clerodendrum indicum, Mussaenda roseburghii, Melastoma malabathrica, and Solanum torvum, grass species such as Melocanna baccifera, Oxytenanthera nigrocilinta, and Thysanolaena maxima, climbers like Chromolaena odorata, Mucana pruriens, and Calycopteris floribunda, and herb species such as Triumfetta rhomboidea, Musa ornata, and Costus speciosus.

The CWS provides habitat for a good number of important mammal species such as Elephas maximus, Callosciurus pygerythrus, and Cuon alpinus, bird species like Nectarinia zeylanica, Hirundo rustica, Motacilla alba, Pycnonotus cafer, and Dicrurus aeneus, reptile species such as Mabuya carinata, and Rhabdophis subminiata, and amphibians species like Rana limnocharis, and Bufo melanosticutus.

The CWS has four main habitat types (high forest, low forest, grassland and water body). The high forest habitat is dominated by Artocarpus chaplasha, and Stereospermum chelonioides mixed with other species such as Bursera serrata, and Grewia microcos. The low forest habitat is generally bushy to brushy vegetation composed of mixed species like Ficus reliosa, and Clerodendrum indicum. The undergrowth in both types consists of species like Clerodendrum indicum, and Mussanenda roxburghii.

The CWS has some patches of industrial tree plantation, which are part of the remaining forest in the area. It also has large patches of betel leaf cultivation along the banks and flood plains of the major rivers adversely affecting the wildlife habitats in CWS. The Table 23 at Appendix presents area under different habitat types. The CWS contains about 107 vascular plant species of 96 genera and 71 families (Table 24 at Appendix) . Most of the plant species found in the CWS are indigenous and none is endemic and rare. The CWS has some exotic species like Acacia auriculiformis, A. mangium, Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Tectona grandis.

Char Kukri Mukri Wildlife Sanctuary (CKMWS)

The CKMWS was established through gazette notification of December, 19, 1981. The GSI database of BFD estimates the current area as 2,106 ha. The CKMWS falls under the Sundarban/Mangrove Forest Biogeographic Zone (S/MFBZ). The dominant tree species include Sonneratia apetala, Avicenia officinalis, Excoecaria agallocha, and Heritiera fomes. The shrub species comprise of Dalbergia spinosa and Hibiscus tiliaceus. The CKMWS has palm species like Nypa fruticans and, climbers such as Derris scandens and Caesalpinia crista, and herbs like Acrostichum aureum and Typaangustata.

The CKMWS is good habitat for mammal species like Pteropus giganteus, Axis axis, and Lutra lutra, bird species such as Egretta intermedia and Egretta alba, reptiles like Varanus bengalensis and Mabuya carinata, and amphibians like Rana cyanophlyctis and Rana tigrina.

The CKMWS has three kind of habitats (high forest, openland/grassland and sandbar / shore area). The high forest is the largest habitat type and is dominated by Keora mixed with other species such as Baen (Avicennia officinalis), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha) and Sundri (Heritiera fomes). It has shrub species such as Hargoza (Acanthus ilicifolius) and Anantakanta (Dalbergia spinosa). Table 25 at Appendix provides area of different habitat types in the CKMWS. The sanctuary contains about 88 vascular plant species or 83 genera and 48 families (Table 26 at Appendix).

Sunderbans Wildlife Sanctuaries (SWS)

Sunderbans falls under biogeographic zone (SFBZ) and has three wildlife sanctuaries (East, South, and West) that extend over 23,198 ha, 20094ha, and 41,250 ha. All the three sanctuaries have three main habitat types (High mangrove forests, Low mangrove forests, and grassland and blanks. Very small area (25 ha) is under plantations. Most dominant vegetation is Sundri-Gewa in East SWS, Gew-Goran in South SWS, and Goran-Gewa in West SWS. Rosario (1997a) provides information on species and crown cover density wise coverage in the three wildlife sanctuaries (Table 27 at Appendix).

The three Sanctuaries in the Sundarban Forests contain a considerably high floral diversity (Table 28 at Appendix). About 74 plant species of more than 53 genera have already been identified. The three wildlife sanctuaries contain almost the same composition of floral species. The slight difference in floristic composition can be attributed primarily to the difference in the levels of salinity with "East" having least, South possessing moderate and West containing maximum salinity. The number of floral species is varying inversely with salinity. The East Sanctuary contains the number (35) of plant species, followed by the South Sanctuary with 22 species and the West Sanctuary with 17 species. The more prominent tree species include the Sundri, Gewa, Keora, Goran, Singra, Garjan, Dhundal, Amur, Passur and Kankra.

The Golapatta is a very useful palm in the Sundarban. It is widely gathered for thatching material. It is abundantly found in the East and South Sanctuaries but very scarce in the West Sanctuary. Hantal is another palm species, which is used extensively in the construction of small huts as roof rafters and frame for walls. It is abundant in the West Sanctuary. Sun grass or Ullu, the main fodder species for deers, is widely gathered for thatching roofs. Hogla (Typa elephantina), is gathered and split for cheap fencing. Nal (Orundo karka) grass, is used extensively for making mats (dharma). These species are widely found in the East Sanctuary and sporadically growing in the South Sanctuary. These and other activities like collection of honey with the use of fire, small-sized construction timber, firewood and barks, fishing in estuarine and riverine areas, seasonal settlements of fishermen on shore areas are degrading the quality of wildlife habitat.

4.12 Landuse within PAs

Fig 15 provides compiled information on landuse in protected areas. Table 29 at Appendix provides similar information for each PA. The percentage of closed forest in PAs is about seventy percent that is quite high. The three PAs of Sunderban alone account for more than sixty percent of the total area under the protected area net work.

Fig. 15. Landuse in PAs.

4.13 Management of PAs

Management plans for the PAs have been developed for the first time in 1997 (Rosario, 1997 a, 1997b) utilizing tools like GIS. These plans cover almost all the PAs. The Bangladesh Wildlife Preservation (Amendment) Act of 1974 provides legal protection to all these areas. The total area of all the PAs is only 1.11 percent of the total land area of Bangladesh and is well below the target of 5 percent established by the Wildlife Task force in 1986 and the target of 12 percent recommended by the World Commission on Environment and Development. Considering the current population pressure on forests, it seems difficult for Bangladesh to make any additional land allocations to PAs.

4.14 Summary

The extent, density, growing stock and share of important species in the forest of Bangladesh are declining while area under cultivation and encroachment is increasing.

Incompatible and varying information makes it difficult to provide better estimates of change. Future supplies of forest product will mostly consist of small size material and plantation wood.

Systematic information on biodiversity at all levels and particularly at ecological and genetic level is limited and base line information is not available to estimate trends. Most of the original natural habitat areas have been lost. Protected Area network contains most of the biodiversity with 968 identified species belonging to 812 genera and 501 families.

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