‘Rejuvenated’ Sundarbans set to reopen to visitors on September 1
The world’s largest mangrove forest has been closed to the public for three months in a bid to protect its fish resources
Aug 27, 2022 11:52:46 a.m.
August 27, 2022 3:24:30 p.m.
After a three-month hiatus, the Sundarbans are preparing to welcome tourists on September 1.
In light of the fish breeding season, the Forestry Department has banned fishing and harvesting of fish in the rivers and canals of the world’s largest mangrove forest from June 1 to August 31. Visitors were also banned from entering the Sundarbans during this period, reports bdnews24.com.
But the restrictions are expected to be lifted at the end of the week, said Mihir Kumar Dey, conservator of forests in Khulna region. Apart from tourists, foresters will also be allowed to return to the Sundarbans with a permit.
The initiative to ban fishing in the Sundarbans during the summer months began in 2019, following recommendations from the Integrated Resources Management Planning (IRMP) to protect fisheries resources.
This year, however, the duration of the ban has been extended by one month, starting June 1.
Before the reopening, fishermen, tour operators, speedboats and boatmen who depend on the forest are busy preparing.
Tour operators have highlighted the position of Sundarbans as one of the most attractive tourist destinations not only in Bangladesh but in the world. Every year, more than 200,000 local and foreign tourists immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the vast expanse of forests and saltwater swamps.
This year, they expect an even bigger turnout, as the launch of the multi-purpose Padma Bridge has established direct road connections to the southern region.
Visitors can choose from a range of speedboats, tour boats, trawlers and other vessels to travel to various coastal and forest areas including Karamjal, Katka, Kachikhali, Harbaria, Hiron Point, Dubla and Neelkamal.
However, the rising cost of fuel and other necessities in the wake of a global energy crisis has put a strain on tour operators, said Mr Nazmul Azam David, Secretary General of the Sundarbans Tour Operators Association.
“Rising prices for all types of goods, including fuel oil, left traders in the tourism sector counting bigger losses.”
SUNDARBANS RECOVERS ITS SHINE
The establishment of heavy industrial units near the Sundarbans and the varying degree of pollution emitted by ships passing through the forest have had a negative impact on the wildlife in the area, according to Dr. Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, professor of environmental sciences at the Khulna University.
In addition to the illegal extraction of resources from the forest, the unregulated movement of tourists and the construction of “unplanned infrastructure” also affect the habitat of wild animals, he said.
However, Zahirul Islam Jewel, station officer of the Kalabagi Eco Tourism Centre, believes that the three-month ban on entry into the Sundarbans has allowed the forest to regain its brilliance.
“No one has been able to enter the Sundarbans for the past 3 months. As a result, the wild animals have not been exposed to noises and sounds generated by people and boats. They are roaming freely again. It seems may the Sundarbans be back to its natural state.”