A Report on the Biodiversity of Bangladesh



Biodiversity: The word biodiversity consists of two words, biological and diversity. The term refers to the variety and changing state of living things such as plants and animals in any given ecosystem. It effects the stability of the whole ecosystem and because of that, biodiversity is really important for a thriving ecosystem thus it is also very important for humans. Every element of an ecosystem including the physical body and the living organisms are somehow dependent on each other and imbalance in these elements can destroy the whole ecosystem. Biodiversity makes sure all the elements maintain a certain balance that keeps the ecosystem running and stable giving equal opportunity to everyone.

Humans as part of the ecosystem also gets great benefit from thriving biodiversity. Almost everything that we use consume and explore are all possible because of biodiversity and up until the modern age, we did not do much harm to it. However, man-made disasters such as global warming is triggering climate change which in return damaging the biodiversity, over consumption is also creating an imbalance in it which in the long run can create great problems for humanity and their signs are already visible. Sustainable development is the only way we can ensure a great future for our next generations and preserving biodiversity is a must for sustainable development.

The Bangladeshi Biodiversity:

Bangladesh is one of the biodiversity-rich countries in the world. It has a landscape that is ruled by nature mostly, water. Our country is full of rivers and other water-bodies and its influence is visible in all the major five ecosystems which are-

  1. Coastal and marine ecosystems,
  2. Inland freshwater ecosystems,
  3. Terrestrial forest ecosystems,
  4. Hilly ecosystems and-
  5. Man-made homestead ecosystems.

Depressed wetlands which are known as Haor are the most natural ecosystem of Bangladesh. These Haor basins are known for their rich biodiversity. Haors support the lives of thousands of people in our country with its vast supply of different types of fish and other resources. Inland freshwater ecosystems mostly consist of rivers, riverbanks and river-borne islands called Char. Inland freshwater ecosystems also offer a great biodiversity of many marine species along with birds, reptiles, small mammals and scavenger animals. Chars also become full of small plants and grasslands which become grassing ground for domesticated animals. Terrestrial forests that includes worlds largest mangrove Sundarbans, cover about 11% of the countries land mass while the hill-tracks covers around 12% of the country. Both ecosystems are very important for the biodiversity of Bangladesh as thousands of species of animals and plants are found in them.

All the ecosystems mentioned above are threatened in many ways some natural but mostly manmade. Over-use of these natural resources and uncontrolled urbanization threatens our biodiversity which in the long run will be very dangerous for our own existence.

Some statistical Data on Biodiversity of Bangladesh:

The table below shows the number of different living species-

GroupTotal no. of living speciesTotal
Fishes251 (fresh-water and brackish water) 402 (marine)653
Amphibians34 (inland) –34
Reptiles109 (inland) 17 (marine)126
Birds301 (resident) 176 (migratory)477
Mammals110 (inland) 3 (marine)113
Total805 5981403
Source: http://en.banglapedia.org/index.php?title=Biodiversity 

Current conditions of these species are shown in the graph above.

Sundarbans: A brief history, its role in Biodiversity of Bangladesh and current condition-

In 1764, when for the first time Sundarbans was mapped, it stretched from the River Hoogly of west Bengal to river Meghna of Bangladesh. Over time because of deforestation and spreading of civilizations, the area has been reduced to one-third of its original size. Without any doubt, Sundarbans is the greatest asset of Bangladesh in term of nature and biodiversity and it has been providing us with resources from as early as 200-300 ad. It is home to many endangered and critically endangered species of plants and animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Ganges and Irawadi dolphins, estuarine crocodiles and the critically endangered endemic river terrapin (Batagur baska).  It is the only mangrove habitat in the world for Panthera tigris tigris species.[1] However, Sundarbans is also rich with many more species of flora and fauna that fills up this mysterious landscape of over 177 rivers that create a labyrinth of beauty and nature. Its water is filled with fishes and other marine resources that provide living for thousands of people. The Sundarbans also protect the southern part of Bangladesh from cyclones and other natural disasters by working as a shield. As a manifestation of importance of Sundarbans ecosystem, the area was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 December 1997. This shows its significance in preserving the biodiversity of Bangladesh. However, illegal activities such as hunting of the royal Bengal tiger and other endangered species, illegal logging in preserved areas, corruption of local forest officials is causing irreversible damage to this great gift of nature. By any means, the Sundarbans must be saved before it is too late.

Causes of ecological imbalance and how to prevent them:

Biodiversity has been declining at a dangerous rate as for years as human activities disrupts natural order of our ecosystems. According to environmentalists, the main causes of our declining biodiversity are-

Climate change, Deforestation, Overexploitation, Pollution, Human Overpopulation, Natural Calamities.

All of these problems are visible in Bangladesh. In rural areas, there are little to no consciousness about the importance of biodiversity in people. As a result, many species of animals have been killed, hunted or poached to extinction. So, for any conservation plan to work and have any positive impact on our biodiversity we must educate our rural population on importance of biodiversity and how every animal is essential for the ecosystem, even those which seem harmful to us have positive impact on the environment. One such case is that of Branded Crait snake. Even though this species of snake is poisonous, its very shy and considered harmless for humans as they run away instead of attacking when they come near humans. This species of snake eats Russel viper and king cobra which are considered extremely dangerous. However, as ignorant people killed most of the branded kraits, number of Russel viper have increased and they have spread in places where they didn’t exist before. So raising awareness is very important to protect our biodiversity. There are laws and regulations implemented by the government such as, Forest Act, 1927. We have to make sure this laws are implemented properly and without any exception or compromises for anyone.

There are two method of biodiversity conservation-

  1. In-situ Conservation
  2. Ex-situ Conservation

We have to practice In-situ or on site conservation in existing forests, national parks and other natural reserves to make sure the condition does not get any worse and protect species that aren’t endangered yet.

However, for endangered and nearly extinct species we have to practice ex-situ conservation method, where the species are taken out of their natural habitat to an artificial conservation site where long term steps are taken to ensure return to their natural habitat in future.

[1] https://whc.unesco.org/

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