Vol. 5 Num 1046 Sat. May 12, 2007  

Take steps to preserve wetlands
Speakers urge govt

Speakers at a press briefing urged the government to take necessary steps to preserve wetlands and coastal areas of the country for the sake of ecology.

They underscored the need to formulate a national policy on use and protection of wetlands.

"We have necessary laws. If we just implement them, we can protect the wetland," said Dhaka University Prof Anwarul Islam, an eminent biodiversity expert of the country.

They were speaking at the launching ceremony of a book titled 'Number and distribution of waterbirds and wetlands in the Asia-Pacific region' that contains census results of Asian water birds since 2002 to 2004.

Recently published from Wetland International, Malaysia, the book was edited by Li Zuo Wei and Taej Mundkur. Enam Ul Haq, eminent birder of the country, led the census team of Bangladesh part.

The speakers said pressure on wetland has been increasing day by day due to over population.

They also said people have been extracting resources from wetlands, including canals, lakes, springs, haors and ponds and also from coastal zone in an unplanned way. Therefore, aquatic food chains for aquatic species and water bodies are being destroyed due to over extraction and pollution, they added.

Citing Sonadia, one of the ecologically critical area, as an example, the speakers said Sonadia is in danger as a deep seaport is going to be built there. But Sonadia is the birding place of 'Spoon billed Sandpiper', a very endangered bird of the world.

However, the speakers said the government is already working to protect the biodiversity of Sonadia with the fund from Global Environment Facilities of UNDP.

At present there are only 19 'Important Bird Area's, which cover less than 10 percent wetland of the country. The speakers demanded that the government should increase the number of Important Bird Area.

Mahbubul Alam, former adviser to the caretaker government and editor of the Independent, Prof AFM Yusuf Haider, pro-vice chancellor of Dhaka University and eminent bird expert Prof Kazi Zaker Hossain also spoke on the occasion.

Enayetullah Khan, president of Bangladesh Wildlife Trust and chief editor of UNB, presided over the session.