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Ecologically critical, but not really

Simply labelling sites as ecologically critical is not enough

GreenWatch Desk Op-Ed 2024-06-09, 3:50pm

To any outsider looking in, Bangladesh’s natural beauty is one of its most recognizable factors. Our many forests and natural bodies of water are not only beautiful to look at but are also diverse ecosystems hosting uncountable species of flora and fauna.

While many of the more notable sites are classified as ecologically critical areas (ECA) by the government to protect them, the unfortunate reality is that the ECA tag has done next to nothing in actually preventing encroachment and other malpractice which endangers their environmental integrity.
Case in point: The River Buriganga was classified as an ECA in 1999, a river that is considered one of the most heavily polluted in the world.
The government’s reason behind the failure to protect ECAs is a lack of personnel. According to a recent Dhaka Tribune report, several officials have attested that the first problem is that all 13 areas declared as ECAs are tourism spots, adding that the implementation of the ECA has been slow due to budget problems, but there is hope that the financial crisis may dissipate soon. Given that the recent budget emphasized the environment, particularly climate change, as a factor, there is perhaps some reality to these expectations.
Just recently, the nation witnessed a string of incidents in the Sundarbans, also classified as an ECA and considered to be the veritable “lungs of Asia,” with cyclone Real in particular dealing damage from which the mangrove may take an upwards of four decades to recover from, reports DT.
It is clear that simply labelling sites as ecologically critical is not enough. The relevant authorities need to be empowered with the necessary funds and infrastructure in order to protect these incredibly important places.