Mangrove afforestation in the coastline of Sundarbans is a natural solution. Also, it works as a natural mechanism to control carbon emission.
Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest, not just the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is also an essential component in the lives, livelihoods and natural saviour of this disaster-prone country.
To the people of the southern coastal region, “The Sundarbans is our mother,” It is a source of fish, crab, shrimp, honey, herbs and fruits, firewood. Not just that, but she protects us too; shielding us from cyclones, tides and erosion. She feeds us, nurtures us and protects. She is our mother.”
The southern coastal region where the Sundarbans lie is isolated from infrastructure and prone to cyclones, storms, tidal upsurges, flooding, salination and a host of other natural disasters.
In recent years the cyclones Sidr (2007), Aila (2009), Roanu (2016), Fani (2019), Bulbul (2019), and Amphan (2020) have devastated lives and property in low-lying coastal areas.
Besides the constant threat of cyclones, coastal regions have the added disadvantage of not being particularly fertile. The increased salinity and you get a dangerous reduction of food crop production, and therefore food security. Salinity continues to rise due to the lack of the flow of fresh water from upstream.
Along with 19 coastal districts, more than 35 million people of the coastal region are affected by salinity. And it has increased by around 26% over the last four decades.
Salinity and lack of fertility also affect grazing land and fodder crops for livestock. The decrease of cattle-raising in Bangladesh creates nutritional consequences, especially for children.
However, people have converted freshwater areas into shrimp culture.
It causes the salinity increase in the surrounding areas and damaging the grazing areas of livestock.
There are many ways to mitigate or overcome the salinity problem. The top priorities are building and strengthening embankments, constructing sluice gates and irrigation mechanisms, establishing rainwater harvesting systems, and introducing salinity-tolerant crop varieties with nutritional content. Our solution was to use mangroves to fortify built embankments.
Mangrove afforestation along the coastline is a great natural solution that functions as a machine to reverse carbon emission, reduce storm impact and foster an alternate livelihood for coastal dwellers.
This unique ecosystem is a combination of three things; as embankment protection, source of livelihoods and climate change mitigation.
Kazi Amdadul Hoque is a Senior Director, Strategic Planning and Head of Climate Action at Friendship.
Friendship is a social purpose organization works together with vulnerable people in remote communities in Bangladesh to help them transform their lives.
He wrote about the Friendship’s participatory approach that addresses most of these concerns to integrate into all of the Friendship’s other interventions – climate action or otherwise, and cohesively create a better quality of life for everyone.
Friendship engages the local communities in mangrove plantation efforts by training them. They also involved the local government and department of the forest. Subsequently, it handed responsibility over to them for maintenance and guardianship, which fosters ownership.
The approach has covered basic knowledge and skills for mangrove plantation and cares along with alternate livelihood opportunities.
They formed committees and groups, conducted training sessions, and regular follow-up meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
Friendship’s mangrove plantation project is part of a holistic program. It includes health interventions, water treatment plants, special assistance for the fishermen, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation, which have been set up gradually over the years.
Planting mangrove forests has led to the common good, in this case, simultaneously solving community-level problems, while serving as the most efficient carbon-absorbing machine possible.
Friendship essentially fills the gaps and brings everyone together cohesively in a shared interest towards mutual benefit.
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