Chakaria Sundarbans

Chakaria Sundarbans a deltaic mangrove forest of the matamuhuri River at Chakaria in Cox's Bazar district. The initial area of the Chakaria Sundarbans was about 18,200 ha. Subsequently, 7,490 ha of land was declared as Reserved Forest and the rest as Protected Forest. A selection system was followed to manage the forest. But it was modified from time to time in order to arrest the deteriorating condition of the forest. At one point restrictions were imposed on extraction of forest produce. But this could not counter the destruction of the forest. In fact, the forest has been almost completely denuded in recent years.

A survey conducted in 1994 showed the presence of a good number of species such as sundari (Heritiera fomes), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), keora (Sonneratia apetala), Hantal (Phoenix paludosa), etc. However, species like Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis), Dhundul (X. granatum), Hawa (Rhizophora mollucensis), Golpata (Nypa fruticans), etc were found to have disappeared from the forest. All the trees near shrimp ponds had been cut. In the rest of the areas only a few trees were left standing.

The entire Chakaria Sundarbans is now a barren area; stumps of trees are found all over, and only about 200 healthy trees are left. A number of factors have led to the destruction of this forest. These are: (i) removal of forest produces for fuelwood; (ii) overgrazing of cattle; (iii) spread of human settlements; (iv) fishing; and (v) shrimp culture. Between 1977 and 1982, an area of about 3,000 ha was transferred for shrimp farming and human settlement. The government policy of allowing use of the reserved forest for shrimp farms and human settlement encouraged some people to make forest clearing indiscriminately. Nevertheless studies indicate that Chakaria Sundarbans can still be rehabilitated with mangroves if biotic interference is controlled. [Neaj Ahmad Siddiqui]

See also sundarbans.