The COVID-19 pandemic: A threat to forest and wildlife conservation in Bangladesh?

Author:- Md. Saidur Rahman, Azharul Alam, Serajis Salekin, Md. Ariful Hoque Belal,Md Saifur Rahman
Category:- Journal; Year:- 2021
Discipline:- Forestry & Wood Technology Discipline
School:- Life Science School


The global pandemic due to COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2) has brought significant disruption to society and the environment. In this study, evidence from newspapers, social media, remote sensing and organisational data were used to assess the impact of national lockdown on forest and wildlife conservation, including the forest-dependent people in Bangladesh. The nationwide lockdown worsened the non-forest income-generating activities of the forest-dependent communities leading to increased pressure on neighbouring forests. Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) data reveal spurred deforestation alerts in May 2020, and about 222 ha forest area had been cleared during January to October 2020, which is 8% more than the whole year of 2019. Despite some positive information about free movement of wildlife in the forest, a total of 112 animals were killed, which is 28 times more than that of the same period in 2019. At the same time, wildlife rescuing plummeted by more than 40%. Complete banning of tourism activities brought a significant reduction in income and employment, leading to collapse of the tourism industry. Lack of tourists, on the other hand, brought a blessing to the wildlife, allowing them to roam freely. Both air and water quality were improved in Dhaka city, and increased aquatic wildlife activities were recorded in some major rivers. The forest department's revenue shrank substantially during the lockdown period than that of the previous year. This study highlighted a substantial impact on all aspects of forest and wildlife conservation and on the forest-dependent people, which might be a pitfall for attaining the achievements of national and international conservation goals and treaties. Furthermore, the research highlighted policy implications that would be effective in minimizing pandemic-wrought threats and maintain and foster conservation activities in different forests in Bangladesh.

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