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Plantation Forestry

Plantation Forestry forest crop or stand raised artificially either by sowing or planting. The history of plantation forestry in Bangladesh dates back to 1871 when the first attempt of planting teak was made by the Forest Department by obtaining seeds from Burma (Myanmar) and distributed to Jhumias. About eight acres were planted out at Rampahar (Kaptai). From the year 1871 till 1892 plantation work at Sitapahar, proceeded rapidly and extensive experimental work was carried out. After the cyclone in 1897, no new plantation in this area was undertaken until 1913 and it was only from 1917 that the plantation work again started on an extensive scale. New centres of plantations were opened in Kassalong and Rangkhiang reserves from 1919-20. Clear felling for plantation in Rangkhiang was taken up on an experi mental scale. Such clear fellings were made only when the timber could be disposed off and when jhumias were available for raising the Taungya plantation. A large number of indigenous species were sown, mostly in association with teak. The aim has been to grow eventually teak forest on a considerable scale. Gamar, toon, jarul, chapalish, nageswar, etc were tried from time to time. A small patch of jarul sown in 1917 in a low flat area has been growing well but no other plantation either pure or in mixture has shown any promise.

In Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, plantation activities started in 1923. Huge quantity of timber was extracted between 1942 and 1945. During 1945 and 1947, plantation programme which had mostly been in abeyance during the war was generally extended and special works of improvement undertaken under the post war reconstruction schemes. In post partition period ie after 1947, separate working plans for the period 1950-51 to 1969-70 were written for Chittagong and Cox's Bazar. The working plan divided the forest into five working circles - Timber Working Circle, Selection cum Improvement Working Circle, Sungoo Working Circle, Bamboo (overlapping) Working Circle, and Protected Forest Working Circle. Areas with existing poor quality crop where regeneration was inadequate were put into Timber Working Circle.

In Sylhet, a plantation scheme was prepared for a three year period from 1935 to 1937 when jarul, gamar, cham, toon, and garjan were planted in 220 acres annually. According to Forestry Master Plan there were about 3,11,766 ha of plantation in the hill forests of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, and Sylhet Divisions up to 1992. Before 1980, most hill forest plantations were teak and associated species, mainly Jarul and Gamar. Occasionally there were Garjan, Dhakijam and Mahogany. Rotation for the crop was 60 years but reduced to 45 years. Medium rotation crops were Gamar, Eucalyptus, and Mangium for which prescribed rotation was 12-20 years. Short rotation crops are generally molucanna, Acacia auriculiformis and eucalyptus.

Plantations in the plain land sal forests 'In the early 1950's and 1960's Forest Department raised sal plantations over large areas in Dhaka, Tangail, and Mymensingh forests and experimental tendu (Diospyros melanoxylen) in Dinajpur. Attempts were also made in 1970's to plant up the recovered barren sal forestlands with indigenous species like Cassia siamea, Albizia chinensis and some sal associates having faster growth. Mulberry plantations also were tried. But these did not survive well.

In the early 1980's Forest Department started Community Forestry Project associating people with the plantation in the northern districts of Dinajpur, Rangpur, and Rajshahi. Species selected were mostly exotic fast growing species like Eucalyptus camaldunensis, Acacia auriculiformis and Cassia siamea. Thana Afforestation and Nursery Development Project, which followed the Community Forestry Project raised extensive plantations in the plain land sal forest areas of Dhaka, Tangail, Mymensingh, Dinajpur, Rangpur, and Rajshahi with people's participation. Species selected for planting were Acacia auriculiformis, Eucalyptus camaldunensis, and Albizia procera.

Coastal plantation' To protect the life and properties of the people living in coastal areas and in the offshore islands, Forest Department started planting trees on the outside of the protective embankment after the severe cyclone and tidal surges of 1960. Subsequently to stabilize accreted lands on coastal regions and to accelerate the process of land accretion in the bay of bengal, mangrove plantations were taken up. The main species selected for the afforestation are mainly Keora and Baen. In specific locations other associated mangrove species have been tried.

Other plantation activities 'In addition to regular plantation, about 3,296 ha have been planted in 1990 with bamboo, cane and murta in the forests. Agar (Aquilaria malaccensis), an aromatic plant which was once common in the Sylhet forests, was also planted in about 800 ha. To enrich the reed land forest of Sylhet about 210 ha have been planted with reed land species.

Plantation activities beyond the forest land 'To maximize utilization of marginal and submarginal land, about 94,000 km along the sides of railway tracks, canals, and roads have been planted with indigenous and exotic fast growing species up to 1999. [Syed Salamat Ali]

See also forest and forestry