Speakers at a consultation on the formulation of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) stressed the conservation of the hill forests in Bandarban.
They expressed concerns over the native species destroying plantation and horticulture practices. Although horticulture is bringing economic benefit to the farmers, rampant use of pesticides has emerged as a major threat to biodiversity, reads a press release.
The consultation was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Economic Relations Division (ERD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on Sunday (30 January).
The objective of the consultation was to understand the local vulnerability issues and get feedback from the participants on these for incorporation in the NAP.
Considering different vulnerability factors including but not limited to extreme level water scarcity, deforestation, worsening biodiversity, flash flood Bandarban district was selected to conduct the consultation.
Additional Secretary of the MoEFCC and National Project Director of the NAP Formulation Project Md Mizanul Haque Chowdhury was present as the chief guest while Amal Krishna Mandal, joint secretary, Wing Chief, Economic Relations Division (ERD) was present as the Special Guest, added the release.
Deputy Commissioner Yasmin Parvin Tibriji chaired the consultation.
More than 80 representatives from district administration, local government representatives, civil society representatives, sectoral experts, professionals, journalists and academia attended the event and provided their valuable comments and feedback to enrich the plan with locally specific climate adversities and adaptation needs. Participants from different parts of the Rangamati and Khagrachari districts joined virtually.
While delivering the keynote presentation, Professor Dr Ainun Nishat, team leader of the NAP Formulation Consortium drew examples from the changing patterns of the climate and added that Chattogram Hill Tracts is prone to heavy rainfall and it is a major contributing factor to flash floods wreaking havoc.
"We have to adopt measures on how to tackle such challenges", he said.
Khan Jamal Lusai, botanist and former academic emphasised on maintaining the navigability of the rivers and regular flow of water in the hill Charas would transform the life and livelihood of the hill people, reads the statement.
He said, "As there is no cultivable plain land, the hill people have no other choice but to do Jhum cultivation and produce cotton, vegetables and fruits". Jhum cultivation is not as productive as it was in the past, we need to look beyond Jhum cultivation and introduce economic activities that support the livelihood of the hill people, he emphasised.
Mr Ripon Chakma, Executive Director of Trinomul Unnayan Sangstha said, "Use of herbicide and pesticide in mango cultivation is destroying the hill ecosystem. Large scale horticulture destroying the native species is likely to harm the ecosystem and biodiversity in the entire hill tracts regions".
Mr Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Director, Department of Agricultural Extension said, "We can consider conducting a study on season-specific availability of water in different regions. Based on the findings, we can erect permanent dam and reservoirs on an experimental basis and harvest rainwater".
Mr A K M Azad Rahman, programme officer-Climate Change, UNDP said, "Bandarban and the entire CHT needs special adaptation measures". He advocated for Village Common Forest (VCF), a traditional practice to conserve community land for ecosystem services among other adaptation measures, adds the statement.
The special guest Mr Amal Krishna Mandal said, "We are confident that we will have a country driven NAP that will document locally led adaptation efforts".
The chief guest Md Mizanul Haque Chowdhury informed the participants about Bangladesh's priorities outlined in SDG, Delta Plan 2100, Perspective plan, five-year plan and its ambition to graduate from a Least Developed Country to a middle-income country.