May 2015 – April 2019
- Increased use is made of improved institutional and organisational frameworks for a management of the Sundarbans ecosystems that is adapted to climate change.
- Co-management instruments for better natural resource management of the Sundarbans between communities and the Bangladesh Forest Department are further developed.
- The capacities of the Bangladesh Forest Department on the national and district level as to co-management are strengthened.
- Interventions as to biodiversity management in the Sundarbans by different donors, NGOs, the government and other actors are better communicated and coordinated.
- Biodiversity management in the Sundarbans is enhanced through the collection and use of standardised and harmonized data.
The Project “Management of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forests for Biodiversity Conservation and Increased Adaptation to Climate Change” (SMP) focuses on enhancing institutional and organisational frameworks for a more sustainable management of the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage and Ramsar site.
SMP supports the Bangladesh Forest Department in further increasing its capacities for effective management of the Sundarbans. The cooperation and coordination among various stakeholders will be strengthened in order to harmonise conservation efforts. In addition, resource dependent community members will benefit from the sustainable use of available natural resources and increased participation in decision making under a co-management approach.
SMART monitoring in the Sundarbans empowers local administration contributing to a more effective management of natural resources
In order to tackle illegal activities such as poaching and fishing without a permit in the Sundarbans, close collaboration of all stakeholders and information exchange is crucial for ensuring its long-term protection. Central to this effort is the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to help wildlife managers plan, evaluate and implement effective law enforcement and monitoring. Here, the “Management of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forests for Biodiversity Conservation and Increased Adaptation to Climate Change” (SMP) Project built an alliance for a joint approach to capacity building of the Bangladesh Forest Department. SMP provided technical support together with the Wildlife Conservation Society, a co-developer of SMART and the USAID sponsored project Bagh, who have piloted the tool in the Sundarbans, while the World Bank pledged funds to facilitate the patrol implementation.
To that end, 16 officers from the Bangladesh Forest Department have been “trained to train” 30 staff who will be charged with front-line efforts to patrol the Sundarbans and suppress illegal activity. Patrolling data from SMART strengthens the ability of the Forest Department to plan and execute a strategic response to forest crime in the Sundarbans. Bangladesh is one of the first countries to pilot SMART in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“The training is an extension of our efforts to protect the Sundarbans by using information management approaches. The SMART patrolling approach will help us to better combat poaching, illegal fishing, vessel and pollution infractions, and other forest crimes. It will strengthen the capacity of our frontline staff and at the same time build training capacity for forest protection within our ranks.” said Mr. Zahir Uddin Ahmed, Conservator of Forests, Khulna Division, Bangladesh, who is jointly leading the training of trainers for SMART.
Sustainable mud crab production to offer alternative sources of income and contributes to the preservation of wild populations in the Sundarbans
Mud crab farming is an important income generating activity for local people living in the periphery of the Sundarbans. Recently, the mud crab sector has seen a sharp rise in Bangladesh with an estimated 300,000 people depending on it. As all seed stock needed for mud crab farming is collected from the wild, mainly estuaries and mangroves of the Sundarbans, the current level of seed stock harvesting is likely not sustainable. This poses a risk to the ecosystem and to the livelihood of people depending on this resource.
In order to conserve biodiversity and to make the mud crab business more sustainable, the “Management of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forests for Biodiversity Conservation and Increased Adaptation to Climate Change” (SMP) Project together with the Bangladesh Forest Department established a partnership with the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute to support them with technical expertise on the development of economically feasible mud crab hatcheries. Through providing additional seed stock, pressure on wild crab populations in the Sundarbans can be reduced and alternative employment opportunities for the coastal community would be promoted. Additionally, mud crab farming is regarded as less vulnerable to deteriorating water quality and changes in salinity thereby contributing to a higher resilience of local communities to the impacts of climate change.