"Communities within Bangladesh have been working with nature for many years to adapt to climatic impacts and there is a rich body of knowledge on how to implement Nature-based Solutions."
The coastal afforestation activities started in Bangladesh back in 1965. By 2013, Bangladesh Forest Department established plantation in 209,140 hectares of coastal area of which more than 93% was with mangrove species (DoE, 2015). The Forestry Sector Master Plan (FSMP) 2017–2036, however, noted that due to the failure and destruction from natural calamities, the actual area under coastal plantation now stood 61,574 hectares (BFD and UNDP, 2018).
Barisal, Bhola (22°00′ N; 90°45′ E), Borguna, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Feni, Noakhali (22°30′ N; 91°10′ E), and Patuakhali (22°00′ N; 90°30′ E) Forest Divisions (DoE, 2015; BFD and UNDP, 2018).
Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD), as a part of its annual development programme, has been leading the coastal afforestation programme to stabilize Bangladesh’s coastline and create green belt. In the era of changing climate, the BFD has started involving community people through initiatives like “Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change through Coastal Afforestation Project” (2008−2016), “Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project” (2013−2016), and “Integrating Community-based Adaptation into Afforestation and Reforestation (ICBA-AR) Programme in Bangladesh” (2016−2020) by redefining coastal afforestation as a climate change adaptation measure. This approach was followed by “Climate Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods” (CREL, 2013−2018) project and is currently being followed by “Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods” (SUFAL, 2018−2023) — the largest-ever project in Bangladesh’s forestry sector. Initiatives with community participation always have benefit-sharing mechanism inbuilt by following the Social Forestry Rules, 2004 or similar project-specific arrangements.
Coastal plantations prevent coastal erosion and trap sediment by slowing down current. These reduce potential loss and damage of lives and properties during natural disasters, like cyclones and storm surges, by reducing wind speed and velocity of water. Thus, coastal afforestation is considered as an effective adaptive measure against extreme weather events expected to increase under climate change.
Coastal afforestation with mangrove and non-mangrove species provides variety of useful ecological and bio-physical functions, like increasing forest cover of the country, alleviating environmental degradation, acting as highly efficient carbon sink, offering habitat and breeding ground for wildlife and fisheries, and improving recreational value of coastal area. Coastal afforestation also offers socio-economic benefits to the coastal community from harvesting non-timber forest products or other benefits as per the agreed benefit-sharing mechanisms of a particular initiative.
Effectiveness of coastal afforestation programme acknowledge community participation and ownership to forest management. More evidence-based research with community’s perception and policy practice are required to evaluate how coastal plantation can be applied as nature-based solutions (NbS). Local community participation in coastal afforestation programmes needs to be reinforced to generate their adaptive capacities in withstanding climatic variations and extreme weather event. Research is needed focusing on evaluating the coastal ecosystem services and services to the ecosystems to foster collaborative forest management which addresses the role of community to protect the ecosystem they largely depend.
Coastal afforestation has been practiced in Bangladesh since mid-1960. Over the years, the Government of Bangladesh has undertaken many coastal afforestation projects with revenue as well as donor funds. Social forestry system is being practiced in Bangladesh since 1980. Bangladesh has been practicing co-management in selected protected forest areas over the last two decades. Under SUFAL project collaborative forest management approach is expected to be followed in the coming years. Costal afforestation has also followed similar approaches and expected to be part of innovation in the coming days. People’s participation and ownership remains a big challenge along with maintenance of the plantation sites.
National Adaptation Plan of Actions (NAPA, 2005 & 2009) and Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP, 2009) have identified coastal afforestation with the participation of local community as top adaptation priority for coastal area. The Seventh Five-year plan has set a target of 30,000 hectares coastal afforestation between 2016 and 2020 and also suggest creating 500-meter-wide permanent coastal green belt. Emphasize has also given in community participation in the coastal afforestation to adapt and mitigate the climate change impacts.
From mitigation perspective, Bangladesh sets its target to continue coastal mangrove plantation in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) (MoEF, 2015). In 2013, National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) of Bangladesh also emphasized on continuing the existing coastal afforestation and enrichment plantation programmes. The draft Bangladesh National Conservation Strategy (2016−2031) also highlights coastal afforestation and the need to redefine the coastal forested khas (government-owned) land to manage them from leasing to other activities. The present National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP 2016−2021) also mentions about target on forestry towards biodiversity conversation and this in aligned with the SDG Target 15.2 which promotes the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.
Data not available.