Eastern Eye (UK)

Bangladesh bans single-use plastic to save Sunderbans


CONSERVATI­ONISTS in Bangladesh said on Tuesday (28) that tourists dropping rubbish in the world’s largest mangrove forest had seriously damaged the ecosystem, forcing the imposition of a single-use plastic ban in the World Heritage site.

The Sundarbans forest, which straddles the Bangladesh­i coastline, is home to some of the world’s rarest creatures, including the Bengal tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Some 200,000 tourists visit the region each year, according to government figures, on top of seasonal visits by fishermen and harvesters of wild honey who depend on the ecosystem’s bounties.

“When they visit the forest, they bring in disposable water bottles, one-time use plastic food plates, soft-drink bottles and cans,” said Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain, a government forest conservato­r. “It is tough to clean up.”

Mohammed Shahab Uddin, Bangladesh’s environmen­t minister, announced a singleuse plastic ban covering 6,500 square kilometres (2,500 square miles) of the forest late on Monday (27).

“Single-use plastics have severely damaged the environmen­t and biodiversi­ty of the Sundarbans,” he said.

His decision was immediatel­y hailed by environmen­talists.

“The environmen­t and biodiversi­ty are at stake in the Sundarbans,” said Monirul Khan, a zoology professor at Bangladesh’s state-run Jahangirna­gar University.

“The gravity of pollution caused by plastics is more than meets the eye. Wild animals often end up eating these plastics.”

Part of the Sundarbans was designated a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1997.

Mangroves protect coastlines from erosion and extreme weather events, improve water quality by filtering pollutants and serve as nurseries for many marine creatures.

They can help fight climate change by sequesteri­ng millions of tons of carbon each year in their trees’ leaves, trunks, roots and the soil.

The Sundarbans, located on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputr­a and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal, also help buffer coastal communitie­s in Bangladesh from the cyclones that frequently strike during its annual monsoon season.

 ?? ?? TAKING ACTION: The world’s largest mangrove orest is Unesco World eritage site
TAKING ACTION: The world’s largest mangrove orest is Unesco World eritage site

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom