US Ambassador Earl R Miller has recently visited the Sundarbans to promote its ecosystem conservation and a Bangladesh that is resilient to different natural disasters.
"Healthy ecosystems and protection from natural disasters are critical to developing a resilient Bangladesh," read a press release.
Ambassador Miller was accompanied by USAID Mission Director Derrick Brown.
Miller's travel to the world's largest mangrove forest on January 26-28 ahead of World Wetlands Day (Februay 2) aimed to "support the growing partnership" between the two countries and to focus on "the importance of conserving the Sundarbans and its wildlife".
During the trip, Ambassador Miller met with Bangladesh Forest Department representatives at Harbaria and visited US government-supported conservation activities that contribute to the protection of the Sundarbans and its biodiversity.
Miller also met with students from Daffodil University and representatives from the Bangladesh Forest Department to learn about their partnership and research in the Sundarbans.
He visited Katka with a doctoral student from the University of Delaware whose tiger conservation research is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
They also hiked a part of the popular Katka trail and learned about the role and impact of tourism in the Sundarbans.
On the final day of the visit, Ambassador Miller met with representatives of WildTeam Limited, a local civil society organisation.
He learned from them about how their conservation activities continued after USAID's $10.5 million Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity (Bagh) had completed in 2018.
As a result of USAID's Bagh activity, the Bangladesh Forest Department and USAID on May 22, 2019 announced the Bengal tiger population had stabilised in the forest.
They also proclaimed that the tiger population had marginally increased from an estimated 106 tigers in 2015 to an estimated 114 tigers in 2018, read the release.
Ambassador Miller also met with community volunteers, including those with the village tiger response team, local tiger ambassadors, tiger scouts, co-management organisations, and community patrol group members.
Through the Bagh and Climate Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods (CREL) activities in partnership with the Bangladesh government, USAID helped train these community groups to conserve the Sundarbans and its diverse biodiversity.
CREL activities included supporting the planting of 565,000 mangrove seedlings on 512 hectares of forestland. The species planted in the Sundarbans include Kakra (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza), Bine (Avicenia officinalis), Sundori (Heritiera fomes), Keora (Sonneratia apetala), and Golpata (Nipa fruticans).
World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day highlights the important environmental protection role wetlands play throughout the world.
The day emphasises why wetlands are vital to promote conservation of these important ecosystems.
The Sundarbans is the world's largest mangrove forest and an appropriate venue to showcase the importance of wetlands.
This important region provides a natural barrier to hazards such as storms and cyclones and is home to the Bengal tiger, masked finfoot, irrawaddy dolphin, saltwater crocodile, and many other endangered or vulnerable species.