A Success Story of Forest Research Collaboration

Photo illustrated seedlings of Artocarpus Chaplasha, an important commercial forest species in Bangladesh under high scenario of climate change (Photo: M. Al Amin).
Photo illustrated seedlings of Artocarpus Chaplasha, an important commercial forest species in Bangladesh under high scenario of climate change (Photo: M. Al Amin).

This is my pleasure to inform you about a success story on sketching future forests of Bangladesh applying climate change scenarios in a generic version i.e. similar method you may apply to draw your future forest. This is a collaborative project between the foresters of Bangladesh (IFESCU) and USA (USDA). Bangladesh is a South Asian country situated with an area of 147,570 sq. km and a population of 150 million, renowned as one of the most vulnerable to climate change in the world. Forests are decreasing day by day and it is estimated that this forest area has been decreased to 5.4% of the total land area of Bangladesh until 1989 when a ban of harvesting was imposed by the government. The sites those are ecologically and environmentally viable at the present time for future woodland, may not be sustained for the long run due to changing climate. Therefore, questions remain:

  • how the national climate change scenarios can be applied at a regional to local scale;
  • which forest tree species is vulnerable to extinction or low productivity due to loss of its favourable climate for growth and quantify organic carbon;
  • which species are invading naturally because of changing climate;
  • which desirable species may exists or grow nicely with the climate change to uphold the production of the land.

To answer these questions a USDA funded research project was launched at University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. This project successfully identified the forest tree species which might thrive well (22 forest tree species with their organic carbon production capability) in 2100 and which needs to be on care as they are vulnerable to extinction. Two newly established laboratories (Climate change & GIS and tree propagation) under this project will increase the number of research and education programs beyond the project period. In the mean time (2006-2013), this project developed the most appropriate tree species for rural people and develops methodology to visualize the different scenarios for policy makers applying GIS, paves a way to insure the investments of 70 million rural people who are planting trees for their livelihood and future. This also helps the government to choose appropriate species for future afforestation and reforestation programs in the national parks and forests.

National daily news papers and electronic media expressed their overwhelming support for this project results. In addition, the results were presented in the climate adaptation summit at Umea, Sweden in 2008 (where 54 countries with more than 100 institutions participated: organized by FAO and IUFRO) earned best poster award for high quality research. This was an honour for Bangladesh as well. The results also were presented in more than fifteen national and international seminars. Four books with fifteen international peer reviewed publications were made and eighty nine undergraduate and graduate students accomplished their thesis programs under the umbrella of this project. Eight leading universities of USA including Harvard university library, Yale University, Columbia University asked for a book titled Visualizing future forest and environment considering climate change and GIS for their reference.

The scientific results of quantification of carbon of forests pave the way for the Government of Bangladesh to work with an approach of REDD plus readiness. This project made a mile stone of collaborative research of developing and developed country to work on global to local problem i.e. climate change and generate generic knowledge base which may be applied any part of the world.

Written by: Prof. Dr. M. Al Amin
Affiliation: Institute of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, University of Chittagong
Country: Bangladesh

This post is entry #31 in the #IUFRO2014 Blog Competition. The most popular entry will receive a certificate and 500 USD. The second and third most popular entries will receive a certificate and copy of the new book, “Forests and Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development”.

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