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Introduction:

Forestry is a sub-sector of agriculture in Bangladesh, which makes contribution to the national


economy and is supposed to promote ecological stability. Although Bangladesh is amazingly
green, it is a forest-poor country. Most of its public forestlands are located in the Chittagong Hill
Tracts, greater Khulna district, greater Sylhet district, Dhaka, Mymensingh and Tangail districts.
Half of Bangladesh does not have public forests at all. Homestead forests seen around almost all
households are important for the rural communities. They meet a significant portion of fuel wood
need and house construction materials, among other things. Although it is estimated that
Bangladesh has approximately 6% of its land covered with public forests, actually very little of
natural forests is left today except for those in the Sundarbans in Khulna. The plantations are not
to be considered as forests.
The moist or dry deciduous type of forest found in Dhaka, Mymensingh and Rajshahi districts
have largely been depleted. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts patches of planted teak and rubber are
often seen but solid patches of natural forest are hard to come by. In the coastal areas the
mangrove forests are under threat, mainly due to prawn and shrimp aquaculture. The complete
destruction of the Chokoria Sundarban, a unique patch of mangrove forest, due to export-
oriented prawn aquaculture is a manifestation of the immense threat to the mangroves, the home
of the Bengal Tigers.
Officially the Forest Department of Bangladesh is supposed to manage around 2.6 million
hectares or 18 per cent of the land surface of the country. This is a land mass recorded as
forestland when the Forest Act of 1927 came into being. However, according to the Forest
Department's latest information it now controls 10.3 per cent of land surface (Forest Department
2001). The largest category of the forests of Bangladesh are "reserved forests" which include the
Sundarbans(mangroves) in the southwest, the Chittagong region in the southeast and the
Modhupur tracts in the north-central region. The much smaller category of forest is the protected
forests. The basic difference between the reserved and the protected forests is that the inhabitants
in the reserved forest areas have no rights over the forest products but in the protected forests
they have far more rights. In many cases the protected forest is an intermediate category that
eventually turns into reserved forest. The last category of forest is the unclassed state
forest(USF), most of which are in the Chittagong Hill Tracts(CHT). 'Village common forests'
managed by the indigenous people in the CHT include substantially forested portions of the USF
lands.
The three main types of public forests are:
(1)Tropical evergreen or semi ever-green:The Chittagong Hill Forest have been broadly
classified as the tropical evergreen or semi-evergreen types, which, according to a source, supply
around 40% of the commercial timber. The flora of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is distinctive in
character and resembles the flora of Arakan. However, the teak patches that we see throughout
the CHT are planted forests, not indigenous to the CHT.The most important commercial timber
species of the Chittagong Hill Tracts used to be Jarul, Gamar, Garjan, Chapalish, Toon, Koroi,
Civit, Champa, Simul, Chandul, etc. that used to grow to gigantic proportions. Bamboo is still
important item for people who live in the hills. But it is much less available today and the way
the CHT landscapes are changing with commercial plantations (rubber and pulpwood), the
bamboo is bound to become scanty for the hill people.
(2)Moist or dry deciduous forest:In the sal forest 70% to 75% of the trees used to be the sal.
But today the sal forest patches have been exhausted to such a great extent that in most places
they no more represent the traditional sal forests. A traditional sal forest has some unique
features. The soil all over a sal forest looks yellowish or reddish in color. In the Modhupur forest,
mixed with the yellowish red sandy clay is scattered manganiferous iron ore, commonly called
Modhupur Kankar.In addition to its commercially valuable sal tree, this forest has other valuable
trees such as koroi, chambal, jogini, chakra, kaikha, amlaki, ajuli and gadila.
(3)The mangrove forest,The Sundarbans:The mangrove forest, the Sundarbans in the
southwest of Bangladesh, is unique because of its history, size, productivity and significance in
balancing the local ecosystem. It is the largest mangrove patch in the world.The Sundarbans have
an extreme length along the sea face of the Bay of Bengal, from the Hoogli to the Meghna, of
about 165 miles, the greatest breadth from north to south being about 81 miles". Despite official
land reclamation programmes and continued exploitation of products from this swampy forest, it
still survives with multiple threats originating from the modern world. Sundarbans including the
Sundari. Some of them are Bain, Amur, Bali, Bhara, Bonjam, Garan, Kankra, Pasur Gewa, and
Sondal. The major trees are found in varied quantity in different zones of the Sundarbans. The
forest is also the source of other house construction materials such as Golpata and sungrass, used
for making roofs of the local houses. Honey, bees-wax, crustaceans and molluscs are other
resources regularly harvested from the Sundarbans. More than 120 fish species are harvested in
the mangrove area.
Social forestry in Bangladesh:
Social Forestry programs have been initiated with a view to meet the forest product
requirements of local population and to reverse the process of ecological and climatic
degradation through proper soil and water conservation and to improve the socio economic
condition of the rural people.
Social Forestry programs have following objectives:
To meet the needs for fuelwood, small timber, bamboo, fodder and other minor forest
produces on sustained basis.
To provide employment opportunities to the rural population.
To develop cottage industries in rural areas.

To utilize the available land to the best advantage according to its production capacity.

To provide efficient soil and water conservation.
To improve aesthetic value of the area and to meet the recreational needs of the
population.
Participatory Forestry
From last two decades there has been a gradual shift in the forest management approach
adopted by Forest Department i.e from its traditional custodian role to a more participatory
approach. Accordingly the provision of people's participation in protecting the natural forest
and afforesting the degraded and encroached forest land with benefit sharing mechanism
has been developed and people's participation has been ensured.
The ADB funded Community Forestry Project implemented in the seven northern districts
from 1981 to 1987 paved the foundation of Participatory forestry in Bangladesh. Following
this other ADB funded project named 'Thana afforestation and nursery development
project', 'Green Belt project' were implemented and now 'Forestry sector project' is being
implemented throughout the country. Major components of this project are: Woodlot, Agro
forestry and Strip plantations etc.
Social Forestry Achievements

Table: Summary of Harvested Social Forestry Plantation (1999-00 to 2012-
13)
Area
Felled
km/ha
Timber
Quantity
(Thousand
Cubic m.)
Fuelwood
Quantity
(Thousand
Cubic m.)
Poles
(Thousand
Nos)
Total
sale
Proceed
( Crore
Tk)
Participant
Involved
(Thousand
Nos)
Participant
Share
(Crore Tk)
Tree
Farming
Fund
(Crore
Tk)
GOB
Revenue
(Crore
Tk)
23,253
ha &
10,729
km
4,46,580 4,95,110 4542.16 461.91 105.92 208.34 45.19 190.46



Major Social Forestry and Co-management Activities

Community Forestry Project (ADB Loan No. 555-BAN; EA:FD; Duration 1981-1988);

Upazila Afforestation and Nursery Development Project (ADB Loan No.0956-BAN
[SF]; EA: FD; Duration 1989-1996);

Coastal Green Belt Project: (ADB Loan No.1353-BAN[SF]; EA: FD; Duration 1995-
2002);

Forest Resources Management Project: Forest Directorate Component (IDA Grant
and WFP Assistance Duration: 1992-2001 EA: FD)

Forestry Sector Project (ADB Loan No. 1468-BAN[SF]; Duration: 1998-2004, EA:
FD).

Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Project (Currently suspended Loan No. 1643-
BAN[SF]; EA: FD; Duration 1999-2006)
Nishorgo Support Project (Duration: 1999-2000 to 2008-09)
IPAC Project


Sustainability of Participatory Forestry
The Social Forestry Rules
The Forest Act of 1927 has been amended in 2000 to support and encourage social
forestry/participatory forestry activities in the country. Social Forestry Rules have been
formulated and now waiting for vetting from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary
Affairs. Forest Act and Social Forestry Rules will provide legal support to participatory
forestry and will also ensure sustainability to this programme.
The Tree Farming Fund (TFF)
Participatory plantations are being raised from development budget using both government
and loan money. Participatory forestry cannot be made sustainable using government fund
only. Tree Farming Fund (TFF) has been developed using 10% money from the final harvest
to reduce dependency on government and donor fund. The Ministry of Finance has approved
TFF. The participants will operate the TFF. TFF will provide 50% of the replanting cost. The
remaining 50% cost will be provided by the project. If TFF doesn't cover 50% of the
replanting cost, the participant will contribute voluntary labour to cover the gap. TFF and
participatory labour contribution will make participatory forestry sustainable.
Future Prospect:
The Potential land available for the Social Forestry practices are as follows :
No. Available Land Area in Million Hectare
A
Degraded & denuded land of Unclassed State Forest
Land
1.00
B Khas lands 0.56
C Degraded government forest land 0.27
D Marginal strip land 0.08
E Homestead marginal land 0.27
F Degraded tea garden land 0.06
G Degraded private forest land 0.05
H Cropland Agroforestry on private agricultural lands 2.36
(29% of the total agricultural land is above normal flood
level & suitable for cropland agroforestry)
Total Available Land for Social Forestry 4.65
In total about 4.65 million hectare land is available for this purpose, which is about 31% of
the country's total land surface. Considering size of Bangladesh and her forest area, the
potential land available for Social Forestry production system is quite significant