USAID has developed a new programme upscaling ongoing co-management effort in protecting the valuable reserve forest resources in Bangladesh side by side improving livelihoods of the poor in the face of adverse impacts of climate change.
Sharing the new concept at American Recreation Centre in the city yesterday, Environment Team Leader (Office of Economic Growth) of USAID Dr Azharul H Mazumder said various factors, including deforestation, encroachment and illegal activities are challenges for environmental management in Bangladesh.
Leading environmentalists Dr Atiq A Rahman of BCAS and Quamrul Islam Chowdhury of FEJB, experts from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Buet, made substantative comments on the USAID's new concept.
Dr Azharul said natural resources should be managed in such a way that local people surrounding the forest areas of the country are included by providing them with necessary education and technical know-how on forest management.
He echoed the success of the project titled 'Integrated Protected Area Co-management' (IPAC) under the Ministry of Environment and Forest saying it has a number of evidences in terms of sustainable natural resources management and biodiversity conservation.
The project already resulted in equitable economic growth and good environmental governance at ecologically and economically significant areas, he said.
Encouraged by the success of the USAID-funded IPAC, he said, a number of donor agencies mainly EU, GTZ and WB came up with financial assistance to supplement it.
The USAID official said the new programme will include improvement of legal and regulatory measures, streamlining institutions for protecting natural resources, visible-economic model for co-management and resource management and adaptation to climate change at the landscape level.
Quamrul described the new initiative of the USAID as a very small one given the programmes undertaken by the government and suggested real scaling up of the USAID project with more involvement of the community people, partner organisations and experts.
He underscored the need for maximising the benefit of the poorest of the poor side by side with properly conserving the ecologically critical areas and reserve forests including the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove in the world.
Atiq was in favour of looking at poverty, environment and development inter-mix while implementing the USAID project.