Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has urged the government to take definitive action against deforestation, in line with the pledges of world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26).
The civil society organisation made the call on Wednesday expressing deep concern about the absence of solidarity with world leaders from the Bangladesh government to end deforestation by 2030.
"Not expressing solidarity with 124 countries at the Glasgow climate conference to end deforestation by 2030 is extremely upsetting," said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB.
"Many African countries, and Brazil , have joined the group, but Bangladesh did not, despite being one of the most vulnerable nations to the impact of climate change," said Iftekharuzzaman, adding that the lack of pledge from the government is "unbelievable".
The deforestation rate in Bangladesh is almost twice the global rate— 2.6%—, said the TIB chief citing the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data.
"Nearly 66 square kilometres of tropical rain forests of the country have been destroyed in the last 17 years," he said.
Also, he continued, "over 2.87 lakh acres of forest, including 1.38 lakh acres of reserved forests, have become occupied according to the Forest Department's own data."
He warned that the lives and livelihood of at least 1.9 crore people and the country itself will be gravely threatened if its forests face an existential crisis.
"Despite the constant concerns of environmentalists and the strong objections and protests from locals, the government has taken up several projects in environmentally endangered areas, including the Rampal power station near the Sundarbans, setting up an administrative academy on over 700 acres of the Jhilangja forest in Cox's Bazar, and the building of safari parks in the Lathitila reserved forest," noted Iftekharuzzaman.
He hoped 'good sense' would prevail in government and the projects will be immediately cancelled, warning that such projects will have a huge negative impact on the environment.