A new hope for avian fauna
At a time when the country's bird population is shrinking amid habitat loss due to rapid urbanisation, the forest department in Chattogram has taken an initiative to create a haven for avian fauna.
The state agency has planted 1.5 lakh trees of different species, including dhaki-jaam, bhat, haritaki, bahera, amloki, dumur, and kadam, as part of a reforestation effort on 60 hectares of land on the bank of Mahamaya lake in Mirsarai upazila.
Besides being home to numerous local bird species, Mahamaya also shelters many species of migratory birds from mid-December till March-April.
Visiting the area recently, this correspondent observed that the planted trees of native species are now over four feet tall and spreading their branches, while being nurtured by three forest department staffers.
"We hope the area will be transformed with a rich avian diversity within five years," said Shahansha Naushad, in-charge of Mahamaya lake and ranger of Mirsarai forest range.
Jahangir Kabir Tutul, an environmental activist, said, "The areas surrounding the lake were once home to many wildlife, including birds, which were forced to leave due to deforestation. To attract birds again, the authorities concerned need to plant and nurture trees of native species till they grow."
The initiative, being implemented at a cost of Tk 60 lakh, will usher in a positive change for the region's biodiversity by providing a natural habitat with food sources for birds, said avian experts.
Md Farid Ahsan, an eminent birdlife researcher and professor of zoology department at Chittagong University, said without a healthy environment, birds cannot live properly and face disruptions to their reproductive capacity.
"The initiative for birds is a very good decision by the forest department. However, they need to ensure safety of the birds visiting the area to make the initiative a success," he added.
SM Khaiser, divisional forest officer of Chattogram North Forest Division, said after the trees become mature, the area will be fenced off to protect the birds from predators and poachers.