Dhaka Saturday December 15, 2012
Laurels for climate champions
Butterfly Park Bangladesh Ltd, the first butterfly-themed amusement park in Bangladesh, is more than just a tourist attraction. It is a centre for education, scientific research and nature conservation. With its butterfly sanctuaries and a research centre to study breeding strategies for butterflies, the park aims to enhance public interest in the protection of butterflies and nature.
Situated at Patenga in Chittagong, the theme park has butterfly sanctuaries that host thousands of butterflies belonging to different groups. It offers guided tours of its butterfly museum and their breeding centres, fish tanks, lakes and greenery.
With the disappearance of rain forests and other natural habitats, butterflies are declining all over the world, especially in tropical countries like Bangladesh. The park wants to create public awareness so that people refrain from killing butterflies and take an active role in conserving butterfly habitats instead.
It arranges awareness campaigns and outdoor educational programmes for children as well as adults. Visitors to the park can learn about the species and the part butterflies play in maintaining ecological balance.
The authorities of Butterfly Park said they invite schools to send their students to the park for educational tours and offer the students 15 percent concessions on entry fees.
Floral arrangement in the park protects butterflies as well as their host plants, where the butterflies lay eggs. The park boasts an abundance of host plants, some of which are considered weeds and are destroyed by people. Visiting the park, children and adults alike can learn how to safeguard the habitats of butterflies.
The park's research unit identifies butterflies and other insects that are under threat and explores ways to conserve the environment, while informing the community about the vulnerable nature of the habitats.
There is a severe lack of recreational facilities and open space for the common people in the country. The Butterfly Park has 60 acres of land with a wealth of plants, waterfalls and lakes.
From predator to protector
Only a couple of years ago they used to prowl the large swathe of Madhupur Forest to chop down trees and encroach on the land of the vast forest illegally, putting the forest in great danger.
But now the 700 inhabitants of the area, known as Madhupur Garh, have turned into a strong workforce of volunteers to police, protect and conserve the forest, thanks to a government project supported by the US.
For decades, the forest, conserved by Tangail Forest Division, had been vulnerable to illegal encroachment and also logging to cater to the demand of firewood for locals and surrounding brickfields in the area.
The illegal felling of tress and encroachment upon the forest land was so widespread that about 50-odd security personnel of the Tangail Forest were powerless to stop them.
With the forest being the main source of firewood, people of Madhupur consumed about 18,000 tonnes of logs every year for cooking alone. The forest also fed brick kilns with another 39,000 tonnes of firewood.
In reality, economically disadvantaged people in those areas had no other income sources but to make the most out of the forest.
The situation turned so bad that the forest shrunk to a 10,000-acre area from its previous 45,565 acres, ringing alarm about its very existence.
The worsening situation forced the authorities to take an initiative in April 2010 to save the forest.
The Tangail Forest authorities launched a new management approach under a project titled "Revegetation of Madhupur Forest through Rehabilitation of Forest Dependent Local and Ethnic Communities."
The project aimed to get back green coverage of the forest; ensure that forest-dependent families have better access to and control over forest resources; ensure income generating activities for the forest-dependent people; reduce the dependency of local people on the forest; ensure secure habitat of wildlife; and reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change impacts.
Promoting energy efficiency
Established in 2006, non-profit organisation Rural Services Foundation (RSF) has been working to make renewable energy and energy efficient technologies accessible to remote rural communities.
Through its different projects and initiatives, the RSF has enabled thousands of rural families and businesses adopt energy efficient measures.
More than half of Bangladesh's population does not have access to national grid. The situation is particularly deplorable in rural areas, where a lot of economic activities are hampered due to power shortage.
To address the problem, the RSF had initiated its solar home system (SHS) programme in 2006. So far it has installed 2,86,013 SHS through its 500 unit offices, enabling households and small businesses use solar power. By using these solar panels, households save 38,982 tonnes of kerosene each year, which reduces emission of carbon dioxide by 112, 763 tonnes.
To further enhance the accessibility of the SHS among the lower income groups, the company has designed a miniature version (16 Wp and 21 Wp) with a low power LED (light-emitting diode) lighting device. A total of 900 small SHS has been installed so far.
It has also developed an even smaller version for small grocery shops, small home businesses and homes in rural areas. So far 500 such mini SHS have been installed.
Recently, the firm has also introduced a fuel efficient alternative to traditional stove by providing users with a mechanism to remove pollutants from indoors. These improved cooking stoves (ICS) halve the fuel consumption, cut indoor air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The resulting environment is beneficial for the health of women and children who traditionally inhabit kitchens.
In addition, the use of these stoves also reduces deforestation by villagers who otherwise use sticks, branches and wood for creating fires. So far RSF has constructed 4,850 such stoves.
In the rural areas, people burn biomass, firewood or cow dung in the open air, creating a lot of smoke that is harmful for the health and environment. The company has also installed 1,164 biogas plants to mitigate the harmful impacts of using these substances in conventional ways.
The RSF Model School and College in Bogra provides free education to 175 underprivileged children in English version. The school has planted 1200 trees on its premises. Every week, students attend an awareness session on environment related issues.
As part of its awareness raising campaign on Green Earth, it organises the “Poribesh Utshob Quiz Competition” for students at the SSC level. The competition asks questions on climate change, renewable energy and the corporate social responsibility.
In this year alone, about 10,000 students from 30 upazilas joined the quiz competition.
Target to be a green factory
Kenpark Bangladesh Apparel (pvt) Ltd, a leading readymade garment manufacturer, plans to scale up its green initiatives to help Bangladesh mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
In its factories at Chittagong Export Processing Zone, the company has already implemented several measures to fulfil its vision to be a “Green Factory” and cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 percent.
The energy efficient units use natural light and run water treatment plant, recycling and waste management systems. The company saves 30 percent of energy and regularly analyses the benchmark data of energy.
Kenpark conducts regular training on environment for its workers and staff to make them understand “green measures” and its positive impact. It won an award from the Marks & Spencer, UK's leading retailer, for its eco-friendly policy.
Committed to work towards a healthy and clean environment, the firm is seeking to improve the energy and water efficiency systems in its factories and develop a recycling system to reduce pollution of air, land and water.
Vegetation in the factories helps cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Its aluminum fiberglass insulation for the roofing area helps reduce cooling loads.
It uses HVAC technology, a complete system of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, to cut energy consumption by 30 percent.
It has a sewage water treatment plant to reuse waste water for gardening. It operates a reverse osmosis plant to treat waste water.
Instead of using conventional pesticides, the company has introduced cheaper and eco-friendly pest control system for its premises under vegetation.
It has provided bins with lid in its factories to ensure proper disposal of waste. Its rainwater harvesting system ensures optimum use of the natural resource.
Kenpark uses 50 percent recycled products as garments accessories, labels and cartons.
The firm has installed carbon dioxide sensors to measure the changing CO2 levels in factory premises. There are also designated non-smoking areas in the factories.
It conducts comprehensive electrical audits in its factories to minimise risk of fire.
Kenpark plans to cut its energy consumption by 40 percent and water consumption by 50 percent. It will also introduce solar electric system.
The company will use skylight technology to supplement natural light for the production and cutting sections in its factories.
Awareness is the key
Prokriti O Jibon Foundation, a non-profit organisation, was founded in 2009. Its aim is to create awareness about nature and climate change among the masses and encourage sustainable development.
The organisation, founded by Muqeed Majumdar Babu, has produced a television series featuring biodiversity in Bangladesh. Titled “Prokriti O Jibon”, the series is telecast every Sunday 11:30pm on Channel-i. It portrays the country's plants and animals; their availability, role in nature, habitats, and life patterns and how they are related to humans.
The show covers non-venomous snakes, wild birds, caves, hills and rivers. The series is the first of its kind in the country to deal with biodiversity and nature. It highlights the importance of protecting wildlife, points out the ways in which humans contribute to their destruction and suggests how they can be preserved.
In one of its episodes, Prokriti O Jibon brought to people's attention a turtle fair, organised as part of the Bengali New Year celebration, that had been around for 150 years at Rajapur village in Kotalipara, Gopalganj. The episode showed endangered species of turtles slaughtered and sold publicly at a local market. The episode had a real impact on people and the fair was closed.
Each episode of the series has a quiz in which 3000 to 5000 people take part each week.
The organisation produces books, DVDs and other materials on related issues and supplies them to schools, colleges, and government and non-government institutions for free. It also sells such materials and publications at book fairs at affordable prices.
The foundation has a research cell that explores areas such as biodiversity and environmental conservation.
Every year, the foundation confers the “Nature Conservation Award” on individuals who have made outstanding contribution to conserving wildlife and biodiversity of the country. It hopes the award will encourage the awardees to carry on with their work and motivate others to follow their examples.
Prokriti O Jibon Foundation has organised various events such as butterfly fairs, nature fairs, bird and turtle fairs, National Nature Festival, World Migratory Bird Festival and rallies and talk shows on environmental issues.
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