‘The forest is dry, what will happen next’

‘The forest of Sidor-Aila-Mokha-Rimal has been our shield. The forest is dry, what will happen next? Husband died 30 years ago. Every year when there is a flood our house gets damaged. But due to the presence of this huge forest on the sea shore, this forest protects us from major damage as a shield. Every year the forests are dying due to floods, we will have no place to stay.’

In this way, after the destruction of the coastal forest, she came to collect wood there and said the regretful words of the resident of Dakshin Musulliabad village near Kuakata in Patuakhali.

Not only Laili Begum, but every family living in the coastal area is regretting now. Not only Rimal, but every storm created by the Bay of Bengal including Cedar, Aila, Fani, Nargis, Mahasen, Bulbul, Ampan, Mokha, Bulbul is disappearing in this forest area which serves as a protective wall for the coastal people.

'The forest is dry, what will happen next'

Every year two to three cyclones destroy thousands of trees in the forest. On the one hand, the forests are destroyed, the coastal people are in crisis, the environment is unbalanced. Therefore, environmentalists and locals demand that the government should quickly protect the forest according to the plan.

According to the information provided by the Forest Department, 550 hectares of forest has been damaged in Kalapara of Patuakhali due to Cyclone Rimal which hit the coastal area on 26th and 27th. The number of affected trees is about 34 lakh 34 thousand 992. The amount of financial loss is about 2 crore 81 lakh 35 thousand 615 taka.

After the cyclone, the whole coast including Kuakata, Lemburban, Gangamati Char can be seen, hundreds of trees like Jhaugach, Keora and Shall Raintree, Karamja, Akashmani, Jam, Arjun are uprooted. These trees not only protected the coast, tourists came and sat in the shade and listened to the roar of the sea and enjoyed the sea by sitting in the fresh air. Today the gardens have disappeared into the sea. The trees are falling.

'The forest is dry, what will happen next'

Kuakatar Hossain Para village resident Md. Nasir Gazi said that every year this forest is destroyed by floods. We are protected to some extent by having forests. The number of trees that have been uprooted in Rimal this year will leave no forest within the embankment in another two or three years. Appeal to the government to save the forest by planting more trees as soon as possible.

Labib Hasan, a tourist visiting Kuakata from Dhaka, said, “I came to Kuakata 3 years ago, but there is nothing of the forest that was there then.” Having a forest next to the sea is a great beauty. Tourists will turn away if it is lost.

Kamal Hasan Roni, coordinator of Kalapara of ‘Dharitri Rakshaye Amra’ (Dhara), an organization working on the environment, said, Cyclone Rimal has destroyed most of the trees in this forest area, which is our protection as a green belt. Due to this, forests are being destroyed, livelihoods of people are in crisis, wildlife habitats are decreasing. All in all, it will cause huge damage to the environment.

'The forest is dry, what will happen next'

He said, apart from the cyclone, the forest cannot be protected from the bandits. This cycle is taking away the damaged trees in Rimal with the help of forest department members. We strongly demand to protect the forest at all costs.

Deputy Forest Conservator of Patuakhali Forest Division. Safiqul Islam said that the damage that has been done is irreparable. We will not remove the fallen trees. It will reduce soil erosion. Recovery will happen naturally. As a recovery plan, we will plant zhow trees this year. Besides, we will take several steps to protect the forest.