Last chance to save Bangladeshi forest: 90 percent of the Sal ecosystem is gone

Jeremy Hance
March 29, 2010

Considered the most threatened ecosystem in Bangladesh, the moist deciduous Sal forest (Shorea robusta) is on the verge of vanishing. In 1990 only 10 percent of the forest cover remained, down from 36 percent in 1985 according to statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). A new study in the online open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science looks at the threats posed to the Shal forest and ways in which it may still be saved.

The Sal forest in central and northern Bangladesh has long been used by local communities for everything from medicine to food and boat construction to fuel. However due to increasing population, the forest has long been over-exploited. In addition, rubber monoculture, commercial fuel-wood plantations, grazing, urbanization, and expanding agriculture have drastically reduced Bangladesh's Sal forest. On top of habitat loss, the biodiversity of the Sal forest is suffering from illegal poaching.

The Sal forest.
The study makes several recommendations to save the remaining Sal forest from complete destruction. Economic alternatives to forest exploitation should be pursued in the region, such as homegardens, small cottage industry, bee keeping, and poultry rearing. In addition, sustainable silviculture—or forest management—should be improved to promote effective reforestation.

Finally, the paper recommends more studies into the ecology of the Sal forest.

Citation: Rahman, M. M., Motiur, M. R., Guogang, Z. and Islam, K.S. 2010. A review of the present threats to tropical moist deciduous Sal (Shorea robusta) forest ecosystem of central Bangladesh. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3 (1):90-102.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (March 29, 2010).

Last chance to save Bangladeshi forest: 90 percent of the Sal ecosystem is gone.