Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  Contact Us
Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 98 | December 21 2008|


   News Room

   Star Campus     Home


NSU Environmental Science students go on Study Tours

Sonia Ferdous Hoque

THROUGHOUT our undergraduate study in Environmental Science and Management at NSU, we have had the opportunity to visit several places in Bangladesh as part of our course curriculum. Such field trips are designed to expose us to the natural environment, so that we can acquire practical knowledge about the relevant environmental issues. Although learning has always been the sole purpose, we spent some of the most memorable times of our lives with our friends during these tours. While previously we have been to Madhupur, St. Martin, Cox's Bazar, Sitakundu and other places, nothing comes close to the experience we have gained during the three field trips arranged this Fall semester as part of a course named 'Forest Management'. Thanks to our course instructor Mr. Junaid Kabir Chowdhury, retired officer of the Forest Dept, who arranged these trips and shared his invaluable knowledge and work experience on forestry of Bangladesh.

For our first field trip we went to Satchori National Park located in Habiganj. With a group of 20 students and our course instructor, we took a three hour bus ride to Satchori on the morning of October 11th, 2008 and returned to Dhaka on the following evening. During this two day visit, we walked miles through the pristine moist evergreen forests of Satchori and learned about the tree species and the ecosystem of that area. Memorizing the tongue twisting scientific names of the trees was a challenging task and it was even quite difficult to recognise them at times. However, it was very interesting to measure the height and volume of wood of the trees with various instruments. It was quite an experience to find our way through the trees and measure them while shouting the answer to a team member whom we could not even see through the dense undergrowth. Apart from the dominant species such as Teak and Chapalish, we came across many medicinal plants with anti-acidic or anti-dandruff properties. Pannylota, a plant whose stem exudes fresh drinking water when cut, was another interesting plant we encountered. During our trekking, we also saw various species of birds, butterflies, insects and ofcourse few monkeys calling from the distant trees.

There was greenery all around which seemed even livelier under the bright sun. At night we halted at a bungalow of the forest department, which unfortunately had no electricity and had only two separate rooms for eleven girls and eight boys. But when you are so tired, nothing can stop you from sleeping.

On October 30th, we went for our second field trip to Kaptai. The forests of this area are also of the evergreen type, but the rainfall is comparatively much lower in this region. On the first day, we took a boat ride to Kaptaimukh beat, crossing the Kaptai hydroelectricity power plant on the way. Here, the slopes were much steeper and apart from those seen at Satchori, we also saw other tree species such as Jarul, Garjan, Bahera, Hargoza etc. After trekking for an hour, the sight of fresh elephant footprints on all subsequent routes forced us to return back, while many of us secretly wished that we could encounter an elephant herd live. One of the major problems of this area is leeches which are spread all over the forest floor and no matter how careful one is, no one can avoid these slimy creatures. And unfortunately it was I who got badly bitten by one of these blood sucking parasites.

Following breakfast, we again packed ourselves in the bus and headed south towards Dudhpukuria, an area which holds a remnant of a tropical rainforest of which only 4-5 patches are currently present in Bangladesh. This area was dominated by Garjan trees, Bansh, Amloki and others, among which we saw a peculiar climber named Gilalota whose fruit looks like giant peas. Our next destination was Medhakochopia National Park, which has been declared as a protected area few years ago. Now that clear felling has stopped, natural regeneration has begun in this area and it consists of Garjan trees upto 150 years of age. Our main objective of visiting this area was to gain knowledge about suitable forest management techniques and which other compatible tree species can be planted in this area to convert it to a mixed forest. Finally we went to Dulahajra Safari Park, where we got to see tigers, lions and deer roaming freely in their respective areas. Some of us also managed to ride on the elephants present there.

Our third and final field trip was the most exclusive one as we got the opportunity to go to Kuakata by launch. In the afternoon, we set out to visit Tengragiri Reserve Forest by boat. The mangrove forests in this region are crisscrossed by numerous rivers and as our boat travelled through Andarmanik river, we saw how the river's natural processes of accretion and erosion lead to mangrove succession on the newly formed lands. When new land surface forms, wild rice grows as the pioneer community, followed by Keora.

Depending on soil compactness, water salinity and tidal height, Keora is gradually replaced by Goran, Gewa and Bain and finally as the soil is hardened and raised further, the climax community consisting of Sundri and Kankra develop. Apart from these important mangrove species, we also saw few fresh water species such as Hijal and Koroj, indicating that the salinity was lower in this area. Walking through the muddy mangroves, while avoiding the innumerable vertical roots called Pneumatophores was quite an experience. After walking for an hour or so, we finally reached a beach devoid of people. The sea was very silent and enabled us to walk through the water for a long distance. With the forest on one side and sea on the other, it was an amazing moment as we sat on the sand and relaxed till sunset.

Next morning, the twenty of us hired 5 vans and rode from our hotel to Kuakata Eco-Park area which is still under construction. Once established, this will be a fascinating destination for Eco-tourism where tourists can get a taste of the natural world. Here we learned about different aspects of the “Kuakata Eco-park Masterplan” which has been prepared by our faculty member himself. A lake has been dug and various ornamental tree species have been planted in the area for the visitors. The problems of relocating the illegal inhabitants of this area were also discussed and in order to avoid conflict a participatory forest management plan and agroforestry has been suggested by the experts. After completing our visit, we set out for Dhaka on the same day by launch. Like our previous journey, we booked an entire floor with 13 cabins on the launch. While the launch sailed throughout the night, we sang, danced and enjoyed ourselves on the deck.

While these trips provided invaluable knowledge on forest management of Bangladesh, they were also our last trips together. Being students of Environmental Science at NSU, we have indeed been fortunate to visit several wonderful places like these throughout our undergraduate studies.

(Student of Environmental Science, NSU)

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008