April 22, 2021, 2:07 pm

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Forest lands will be cleared of illegal occupation at any cost. – Minister of Environment and Forests on the occasion of International Forest Day.

Staff Reporter: Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md. Shahab Uddin has said the country’s forest lands will be cleared of illegal occupation at any cost.  He said legal action would be taken against both the occupiers of the forest and those who assisted in the occupation.  He said all the forest department personnel who would be injured for protection or restoration of the forest would be rewarded while those accused of assisting in forest occupation would be given exemplary punishment.  The government will succeed in restoring the forest land with the cooperation of all concerned.

The Minister for Environment and Forest said this while addressing a discussion meeting organized by the Forest Department on the occasion of International Forest Day-2021 on Sunday (March 21) under the theme “Forest Restoration: A path to recovery and wellbeing”.

The Forest Minister said a significant portion of the 1,38,613 acres of reserved forest land, which had been forcibly occupied for various reasons, has already been vacated.  He said the amount of tree resources in the Sundarbans has increased as a result of various effective measures taken by the present government.  According to the National Forest Survey published in 2019, the total carbon reserves in the Sundarbans are 139 million tons, compared to 107 million tons in the 2009 survey.

The Forest Minister said the present government has strengthened the existing forest conservation and afforestation activities of the country with the aim of building a prosperous Bangladesh through people’s participation following the initiative of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in tree plantation.  “On the golden jubilee of independence, I call on all to work together for sustainable environment and forest development and for building a beautiful habitable world for future generations by tackling the scourge of climate change,” he said.

At the meeting, Deputy Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Begum Habibun Nahar said her ministry was discouraging deforestation and construction of facilities in forest in the name of development. She paid tribute to the forest workers killed in forest protection and said the government has success stories in clearing illegal forest lands.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said even an inch of forest land would not be kept in a state of encroachment.  To this end, the contribution of the officials of the forest department will be evaluated, he said.

Deputy Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Begum Habibun Nahar, Chairperson of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Environment, Forests and Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change Ahmed Shamim Al Razi were present as special guests at the meeting chaired by Chief Conservator of Forests Md. Amir Hossain Chowdhury.

Hasain Muhammad Nishad, Forest Conservator of the Forest Department gave a welcome speech on the occasion.  The theme was presented by Professor of the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Chattogram Dr. Md. Kamal Hossain and Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests and Project Director of Sufal Project Gobinda Roy presented the overall activities of the Forest Department.
Checks of Tk 15 lakh were distributed among 5 beneficiaries of social forestry.

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