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The Sundarbans mangrove forest which is one of the largest contiguous forests in the world is under threat by “heedless industrialisation”, according to a UN rights expert. Situated in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, the forest is home to several endangered species. But concerning the growing threat on this UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UN has recommended Government of Bangladesh to halt the industrialisation process, as of now.
Being the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans are rich in biodiversity. Bangladesh has declared three dolphin sanctuaries within the Sundarbans. “One of them is very close to the proposed plant,” says wildlife expert Ronald Halder in Dhaka. Effluent from the plant and coal transportation will severely impact the sanctuaries, adds Halder.
The Sundarbans is a cluster of low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal, spread across India and Bangladesh, famous for its unique mangrove forests. The Sundarbans is a vast forest in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and considered one of the natural wonders of the world. It was recognised in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bangladesh. it is Located in the delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins, this unique forest extends across Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat districts of Bangladesh and South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, India. The Sundarbans contain the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest, with an area of about 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi), of which about 6,000 km2 (2,300 sq mi) are located in Bangladesh and about 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi) in India.
Read more from source: Environmental movement: save Sundarbans, Bangladesh
Traces of human presence dating back some 1,000-1,200 years have been found in the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest in southwest Bangladesh, according to local and foreign researchers.
The remains of the near-ancient buildings were discovered in five places within the Sundarbans forest, and various artefacts have also been found in forest areas up to 83 kilometres away.
These findings were revealed by a local independent researcher, Ism Azam.
Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, an archaeologist at Jahangirnagar University and executive director of Oitihya Onneswan (Explore the Heritage), an archaeological research group, told Anadolu news agency that this discovery adds a new chapter to the history of Bangladesh.
“If a deeper study of those structures is done, we may uncover many facts about the Sundarbans and the history of this land.
“More in-depth research is needed to determine how long and exactly when they were here,” he added.
Comilla University archaeologist Shohrab Uddin, also at Oitihya Onneswan, said the discovery will add a new dimension to the Sundarbans’ history.
A chitral (spotted) deer was found in front of a house at Ramnagar village of Dashghar area in Dakop upazila near the Sundarbans on Sunday morning.
A member of the Sundarbans Community Patrol Group (CPG), Zahidul Islam Gazi, said: “The deer jumped into a pond by being scared by the presence of people. But it was later rescued by the locals.”
When informed, Abu, Kailashganj police outpost in-Charge, came to the spot, and released the deer inside the Sundarbans around 1pm.
However, yet another deer was found near a house on the same day. The second deer was similarly set free with the help of forest officials and locals.
According to Abu, the two deer might have entered the village after losing their way in the night fog. Meanwhile, locals believe the deer might have entered the village in search of food.
A local said this was the first time any deer had entered inside their village. Previously in 2003, a tiger swam across the river to the village, and injured four goats before being beaten to death by locals.
The government has planned to conduct the Unesco-prescribed Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in the Sundarbans and adjoining areas to assess the cumulative impacts of development in the world’s largest mangrove forest for going ahead with the 1320 MW coal-fired Rampal Power Plant projects and other industrial schemes.
According to official sources, the government has moved for such a comprehensive study following the Unesco Resolution (Decision 38 COM 7Bb.64 and 39 COM 7B.8) adopted at the 41st session of World Heritage Committee in Poland in July last.
In response to the move to implement the Rampal and some other industrial projects near the Sundarbans, the Unesco resolution asked Bangladesh to conduct the SEA to assess the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts at a landscape and regional scale and uphold its Outstanding Universal Value (OVU).