21 August 2018 - Almost 20% of Bangladesh would find itself underwater and 30 million people would lose their homes if sea levels continue to rise. Mangrove plantings along vulnerable coastlines may reduce the impact of climate change.
Over 1,76,000 mangroves seedlings of 10 diversified species have been planted and raised over the last year in 10 different forest ranges in a bid to increase natural protection of coastal residents through a UNDP Bangladesh programme to integrate community-based climate change adaptation into afforestation and reforestation programmes. Mangrove plantations are known to be an effective measure to reduce vulnerabilities and hazards of extreme climate events like cyclones, sea level rise and tidal surges.
Over 200 hectares along the Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola and Noakhali coastline have been covered in line with the top most coastal area adaptation priority set by the National Adaptation Plan of Actions (NAPA), the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP), and the Seventh Five-year Plan (2016-2020) of the government.
“Mangroves help to buffer the land against storm surges, strong winds and sea level rise. They also provide a protective barrier for the community and their homes, which are often situated close to the shoreline,” Dr. Mohammed Muzammel Hoque, the project manager, said.
“They also provide a biodiversity benefit by creating coastal environments,” he continued bringing focus to an aspect that traditional reforestation initiatives overlooked.
The Bangladesh Forest Department has planted over 200,000 hectares of mangroves in last five decades since 1960s. However, a key barrier the initiatives faced was the adverse impact of lack of species diversification. Generally, two mangrove species (Keora and Baen) are being planted by the Forest Department along the coast and after around 20-25 years, these species naturally died which creates a gap in the coastal greenbelt. This makes people living nearby more vulnerable to climate change induced impacts. Through this programme UNDP is filling this gap through the enrichment plantation with diverse species to make the coastal belt more protective and climate resilient.
The initiatives also stumbled due to limited level of livelihood diversification in coastal areas, limited local participation in coastal greenbelt management and insufficient incentives for communities to ensure their long-term maintenance, and weak inter-sectoral coordination.
To help Bangladesh realise the full adaptive potential of coastal greenbelts, UNDP initiated the programme in 2016 aiming to increase species diversity in the coastal forest which will result in enhanced socio-economics benefits to local communities from the forests. The programme endeavors to enhance resilience of climate vulnerable coastal community through livelihood diversification and by linking their livelihood aspiration with coastal greenbelt management.
Alongside that, the project works to increase awareness and actively involve local communities and other stakeholders in forest management and adaptation activities to improve local people’s benefit and ownership leaving to sustainable management of coastal forests.
A total of 650 hectares will be reforested under the project to protect coastal population from cyclones and other extreme winds.