How to Save the Sundarbans? With this question we started last week! We had environmentalists, policymakers, and researchers deliberate on ways to save the Sundarbans from rapid erosion, climate change, and human activities.
The Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh is famous for its unique mangrove forests. While it is home to the famous Royal Bengal Tiger and other wildlife, it is also an ecologically fragile region that is extremely vulnerable to climate change.
And wildlife and coastal communities bear the brunt of climate change as the low-lying islands of the landscape are vulnerable to flooding. Sea level rise threatens to erode large parts of the Sundarbans. This would not only leave millions of people homeless, but also wildlife endangered.
The sea level rise in the Sundarban region is twice as high as the global average. However, the threats in the Sundarbans are accentuated by manmade activities like mechanized boating, tourism, sand mining and construction work.
World over, experiences show, construction and increased human activities in delta regions have an adverse impact on the ecology. For example, Mekong, the world’s third-largest delta, where I've travelled frequently, has been threatened by climate change and human activities, including hydropower development and groundwater extraction — contributing to sinking and shrinking of the Mekong Delta.
Sundarbans is not a platform for commercial activities. It is a precious gift of nature to mankind. Unless coherent action is taken now to save the Sundarbans, the world will lose this delta forever.
Sundarbans need urgent global attention and action.
As a part of this effort, we have organised a panel discussion where we brought together experts to deliberate on ways to save the Sundarbans from rapid erosion, climate change, and human activities.
I would like to thank Anamitra Anurag Danda, who is the director of the Sundarbans Programme at WWF-India, Rohin Kumar, Senior Agriculture Campaigner at Greenpeace India, and Mr. Santhosha, who is the Additional Secretary, Department of Panchayats and Rural Development, West Bengal.
And last but not least, I would like to thank Supratim Bhattacharjee, who has extensively captured the saga of the Sundarbans in camera. When I started Nextblue, he was one of the first photographers who touched my heart with his impressive photos. Although I never visited the Sundarbans in India myself, his pictures take me to the heart of the Sundarbans.
My colleague Namrata Acharya from Kolkata, close to the Sundarbans, was hosting the panel discussion and she wrote this solution-driven story “Green shoots” which you can read below.
Story of the Week
As the sea level rises and storms rage agriculture fields, salinity is turning out to be a major issue for farmers in the Sundarban region. However, indigenous crops survive salinity much better than hybrid crops, finds Namrata Acharya, who interacted with scientists and farmers in the Sagar island in the region, while documenting the plight of farmers affected by climate change.
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Making Waves is a podcast about water challenges and solutions. You’ll hear from scientists and local communities in the heart of delta regions around the world.
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