Illegal tree felling poses threat to the forest on a government-owned khas land in Paschim Singur area of Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila.
Kulaura Upazila Nirbahi Officer Farhad Hossain on Tuesday seized around 100 logs of illegally felled trees from the area.
A few people started felling trees there two weeks ago, allegedly with the help of the beat officer of adjacent Baramchal forest, several locals said.
“The gangs are cutting trees in Paschim Singur area, sometime in broad daylight, but villagers dare not say anything as influential people are involved in the act,” Saidul Islam Shipon, a resident of Baramchal village in Kulaura upazila, told this correspondent.
As there is huge demand of wood for local sawmills, they have targeted the forest, he said.
On condition of anonymity, one of the tree looters said usually they make a verbal agreement with the beat officer of adjacent forest after selecting a spot.
“The officer gets 40% of the money earned from each truckload of logs. If there is any disagreement regarding the dealings, the forest department begins drives against the illegal tree felling,” he said.
Visiting the forest areas in Paschim Singur on Tuesday, this correspondent saw clear evidence of massive tree felling.
There were remains of trees and three huge piles of logs were found near a newly-made road.
Contacted, Ahmed Ali, beat officer of Baramchal forest, termed the allegations against him as false.
“The area under question does not belong to the forest department. If we receive any information when loggers transport wood, we can seize the wood-laden vehicles. We don’t have enough resources to conduct regular drives on the road,” he said.
Abdul Karim Kim, executive member of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, said, the forest faces the threat of disappearance due to the illegal tree felling.
Along with official action, social movement is necessary to save the forest, he said.
SM Sajjad Hosen, divisional officer of forest department in Sylhet, told this correspondent, “I wasn’t aware of the matter until now. We will conduct an inquiry and take action if the allegations of tree looting are found true.”