We know the Sundarbans has its capacity to regenerate. The damage after the Amphan is possible to recover like the recovery after the destruction by cyclone Bulbul.
The cyclonic storm Amphan has uprooted around 12,358 trees. So far, the forest department incurred losses in infrastructure worth Tk 21,500,000, according to a damage determination report of the forest department.
Garans were the victims of the cyclone, whilst the monetary value of all the broken trees is Tk1,010,000.
However, according to the forest department’s report, no wild animals were killed during the passing over of the cyclone.
Last year, the mangrove forest lost 4,589 trees because of the cyclone Bulbul. The forest department had to carry on an infrastructural loss up to Tk 62, 85,000 then.
Authorities ban cutting down of trees so that the forest could regenerate.
Md Bashirul Al Mamun, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the Sundarbans West Zone, said: “Cutting down of all sorts of trees in this mangrove forest has been banned. Sundarbans has successfully regenerated after the attack of cyclone Bulbul. Similarly, it will happen in this case; we will only have to renovate our infrastructures.”
Even though instances of casualties has reported during two earlier storms in 2007 and 2009. A thousand people survived as the Sundarbans stood as a shield between the inhabitants of the coastal districts and the fierce winds.
However, the Sundarbans has saved Bangladesh again, which it has been doing for hundreds of years.
Similarly, this time, it took the blow of super-cyclone Amphan and protected us from severe devastation.
The Sundarbans is not only an ecosystem is torn, rather it is an unspoken “trouble-shooter” addressing our social challenges.
We were already overwhelmed by two of the main challenges—climate change and biodiversity loss. What is more, mangroves are such natural systems that can help us tackle both challenges.
As we continue facing a climate crisis and biodiversity loss in catastrophic proportions can be protecting the Sundarbans and nature, as a whole, be our priority now?
We may justify investing in the protection, restoration, and expansion of the mangroves. However, the return from preserving and restoring mangrove is ten times the investment.
Unfortunately, Sundari tree, the main mangrove species in the Sundarbans is becoming unhealthy gradually.
However, there is no significant decline in the number of mangroves in the Sundarbans for the last 30 years. However, there is evidence of a 25% health decline of the mangrove trees.
It is due to the effect of increased salinity and the continuing effects of climate change. These could critically hamper its ability to reborn.
A satellite-based data-driven study on world’s mangrove system brought new findings to say that the dreadful effects of climate change could severely hamper the growths of Sundari tree.
Around 1.44 million cubic meters of Sundari trees have been lost to “top-dying disease in the last 30 years,” experts said.
Top-dying disease among the Sundari, heart-rot disease among the Pashur, and dieback disease in the Kewara, are behind the trees’ rapid decline.
The expert said, the increases of saline water are the key reason, and this is happening in the Sundarbans.
Unfavourably, the Sundari tree is less tolerant of high salinity levels than another mangrove species.
“There is evidence of a decline in the health of about 25% of the mangrove trees,” said study author Katie Awty-Carroll of Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Wales.
Awty-Carroll and his team observed along with a 30-year time series of Landsat data of the entire Sundarbans.
However, it is hard to know the proper explanations behind this decline in mangrove health, the scientists think the long-term decline in mangrove health may be linked to the impacts of increased salinity on the Sundari tree.
Also, rising sea levels are increasing salinity, with adverse effects on the damage from severe cyclones mean that the defensive capacity of the Sundarbans could be reduced in future years.
This study also explored the damage of Sidr, which made landfall in Bangladesh in November 2007.
“We estimate that around 11% of the Sundarbans forest was damaged by Sidr, which is lower than other estimates,” said Awty-Carroll.
Meanwhile, this study also revealed that the effects of Sidr were still apparent more than 10 years after the cyclone made landfall.
Besides, the super-cyclone Amphan brought significant damage over the entire Sundarbans region.
Accordingly, this suggests that major cyclones could decrease the health of the mangroves for a long.
We know, Climate change has to lead to an increase in the salinity of the water and soil of the Sundarbans.
Earlier, it was a finding of 30ppm of salinity in the water—which declines the disease-prevention capacity of the trees.
Zulker Naeen is a South Asia Fellow at Climate Tracker and freelance climate journalist from Bangladesh. He has three years of experience in the field. Zulker developed all his courses with the support of other experienced Climate Tracker staff credited on the course landing page.
As a young climate advocate, his fellowship aims to share knowledge of climate change.
Climate Tracker is a global media network closely works on Climate Change.