Bangladesh is a land of green and unending natural beauty. Undeniably, the land has some of the amazing historical structure but apart from that, it is also a place full of forests. It has been studied that a total of 2.53 million hectares of land which accounts of 17.5% of the total land in Bangladesh among which only 1.53 million hectares are taken care by the forest departments of Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, forests are primarily categorized into three main categories that is completely based on the land topography. These are Plain Sal forests, Mangrove Littoral forests and Hill forests. Hill forest is the region that is the most productive forest areas whereas Plain Sal forest is the least one. When it comes to the total land under forestry, hill forests has a land of 508,991 hectares of land which is followed by Littoral Mangrove forests along with the coastal afforestation which extends more than 489,872 hectares of land and last the rest of the forest is covered by the Plain Sal Forest that is almost 121,884 hectares of land.
Let us dig into details of this:
Hill forests are considered as an ecological resource and it comprises of over half of the total forest in the country. This kind of hill forests ecologically constitutes of transition between India China floristic region and Indian subcontinent floristic region. They generally constitute of semi-evergreen and moist tropical evergreen forests that again extends from the Teknaf Peninsula, along the Myanmar border to Chittagong Hills along with the Sylhet district’s low hills.
These forests are multistoried and uneven in nature. Most of the small understory trees available here are evergreen along with most dense trees are deciduous. The forest has been divided into seven general subcategories like Tropical mixed evergreen, tropical wet evergreen, tropical open deciduous, tropical moist deciduous, Savanna, Bamboo, and lowland freshwater swamp.
These are the tall multistoried forests present on the alluvial flats and hilly forests. These trees are most 6-0 to 65 meters high along with comprises of the Swintonia floribunda, Dipterocarpus Species, Narikeli, and Chundal. Both lower and middle-story is available with diverse understory.
This subtype can be visible in the deep valleys where there is abundant moisture along with shades are present. Tetramefes nudiflora (Chundal), Artocarpus chaplasha (Chaplish), Pterygota alata (Narikeli) are some of the common names available whose length ranges to a height of 30 meters. The orchids, fern, creepers, climbers, and shrubs are the understory.
The dry slopes that remain exposed especially towards the Southern corner have these types of forests. Huge trees remain scattered with prime species Dandarhola, Albizzia species, Michelia champaca, and pitali. Their understory is generally filled with undergrown evergreen tree species and the tangle of Eupatorium odoratum strens that cannot be penetrated.
The prime species of tree is the Barringtonia acutangula along with reed and grasses like Erianthus revenea, Phragmites karka, and Saccharum spontaneum. Range of grassland along with wetland ecosystems is available in these areas, especially in the Sylhet district. Tree covers are being reduced to a huge extent but the wetlands and grassland available here are crucial to various species of fishes and birds. Small patches of the freshwater swamp are still visible in the Sunamganj district.
In Bangladesh, Bamboo is a crucial non-wood resource. Almost 70% of the bamboo resources are available on private lands, especially in the villages. Other than this, the remaining bamboo is from the forest area which accounts only 20% of the total bamboo production. Forests present along the Chittagong hill districts comprises of most of the bamboo trees which are followed by the Sylhet district.
Bamboos present in the forest region are managed by 3 – 4 year of cutting cycle. Either these are present alone or in a mixture of various species of bamboos among the forest of both Chittagong Hill and Sylhet districts. From the many species, only eight indigenous species from which only four species are commercially important.
Most of the ecologist does not think Savanna as the natural ecosystem. This is mainly dominated by the thick Impretta species. This can be found in abundance along with the Chittagong Hill Tract areas.
These are the Tropical Moist Deciduous forests. These are forests that are generally present in floodplains and lowlands in western and central parts of the nation. These forests have dramatically lowered in some area and now the area is left with only a few numbers of degraded patches and widely scattered. These forests comprise of Sal patches coppice with the other tree species. Most of these forests are available in Tangail, Dhaka, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Mymensingh district. In some parts of Comilla, you will find tiny patches of the Sal forest.
These types of forests are mainly dominated by the Sal trees but also comprises of various other species such as Albizzia procera, Terminalia bellerica, Ficus species, and Largerstroemia spp. These species grow moister, productive soils and deeper around the Barind and Madhupur district. The understory is very complex along with includes a range of evergreen and deciduous species. Sal forest includes 271 species from which 41 species are tree.
In the past, under natural circumstances, these forests have a canopy which had almost 100% Sal and used to be grown on the dry, shallow along with less productive soil especially in the regions of North Dhaka. Such type of pure Sal can now be found in coppice form.
These are generally categorized into three different groups to elaborate the vegetative growth along southern Bangladesh.
Sunderbans is one of the greatest mangrove forests in Bangladesh which is on the Southern extreme bordered by the Bay of Bengal. This extends almost 80km towards the northern corner. This forest stretches from Baleswar River which is situated on the east Hooghly River. These forests are divided into three different belts. The external fringe which is present near the Sea is the pure mangroves. These are very limited in the Sunderbans is available in limited quantity. This transitional belt consists of different trees that are mixed with Mangroves. Its inner belt constitutes of pure Sundri.
The coastal area of Bangladesh lies from the west of Sunderbans lies from Haringhata to Sandwip Island. These are the recent accreted lands which are in their early stage of mangrove forest have deposition of sand and silt. In this land, you will find Sonneratia apetala as the pioneer tree species.
Studies have revealed that here one can find migratory waterfowl. Surveys have found that there are more than 100,000 birds in this area which are from 61 different species. Almost 300 Tringa gutiffer are living on the mudflats near the Jiryiradwip. This has been estimated for almost 30 percent of the world population.
Bangladesh coastline across South Chittagong comprises of several offshore islands and estuaries of Sonadia, Kutubdia and the Moheshkhali. In ancient times. This particular area was completely covered with the mangrove forest along with was a habitat of wide invertebrates, migratory and resident waterfowl, gulls, tens and birds. The most part has been completely cleared along with utilized for shrimp farms along with other aquaculture projects. Those were economically damaged in the cyclone that happened in 1991.
Recently most of the forest region is getting depleted in recent times. So if you are visiting Bangladesh and want to visit the forest regions, having a complete idea about the forest regions can be beneficial for you.