Bangladesh is amazingly green with myriad biodiversity resources. But at the same time it is a forest-poor country that has lost its forest cover from some 20 per cent in 1927 to a mere six per cent today. However, if the mangrove forest in the southwest, unique for its size and features, is excluded only tiny patches of the natural forests are left today. If Bangladesh fails to take drastic measures to protect its last patches, its forest-based biodiversity assets will diminish further down leading to ecological disaster.
In the true sense the forest is mother to hundreds of species of trees, fauna, people, traditions, knowledge, and much more. With the vanishing natural forest, the forestdwelling indigenous communities have progressively lost their communal ownership and control over land and other local resources. Their knowledge, cultures and local technologies are also getting lost. This puts them in perilous condition.
What factors have led to this outrageous condition? Most obnoxious arguments come from the government agencies, profiteering companies and agencies from the forest industry, and supranational institutions that put all the blame on the poor people and the forest-dwelling communities who are indeed the custodians of the forests. BON, BONBINASH O BONOBASIR JIBON SHANGRAM (forest, its destruction and struggle of the forest people), edited by Philip Gain, compiles information, arguments and insights that challenge the official contentions.
For more than a decade the Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD) has remained engaged in action-oriented research, reporting and producing documentary films. Additionally, it has brought together representatives of indigenous communities at the national level discussion. In its recent effort it brought together [in June 2003] about 200 indigenous persons, forestry professionals, academics, environmentalists and activists for examination of the state of the forest and indigenous peoples of Bangladesh and the quality of actions that are taken to save the forest and its custodians.
BON, BONBINASH O BONOBASHIR JIBON SHANGRAM compiles keynote presentations of the seminar that explain why the government proposition and that of the supranational regarding the factors for deforestation and depletion of the natural resources are flawed.
The book also compiles declarations that the Adivasis, environmentalists, activists and development workers adopted at different times during the last decade. These declarations present aspirations, commitments, and recommendations that the government, external entities and different proponents must pay attention to for the protection of the forest and the forest-dwelling peoples of Bangladesh.
Contributing writers: Farhad Mazhar, Prashanta Tripura, Abantee Harun, Philip Gain, Zoynal Abedin, Mosharaf Hossen Khalifa, Dr. Mahbuba Nasrin, Professor Mokaddern Hossain, Shishir Moral and Partha Shankar Saha.