Dhaka, Friday, 27 November 2020

Let’s  Visit  Sundarbans

2017-04-05
Let’s  Visit  Sundarbans

Tourism Reporter: The Sundarbans is a natural region in southern Bangladesh and extreme southern part of the Indian state of West Bengal in the vast river delta on the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres (3,900sqmi) most of which is in Bangladesh with the remainder in India. The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sundarbans South, East and West are three protected forests in Bangladesh. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. The Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Etymology

The name Sundarban can be literally translated as “beautiful forest” in the Bengali language (Shundôr, “beautiful” and bôn, “forest”). The name may have been derived from the Sundari trees (the mangrove species Heritiera fomes) that are found in Sundarbans in large numbers. Alternatively, it has been proposed that the name is a corruption of Samudraban, Shomudrobôn (“Sea Forest”), or Chandra-bandhe (name of a primitive tribe). However, the generally accepted view is the one associated with Sundari or Sundri trees.

History

The history of the area can be traced back to 200–300 AD. A ruin of a city built by Chand Sadagar has been found in the Baghmara Forest Block. During the Mughal period, the Mughal Kings leased the forests of the Sundarbans to nearby residents. Many criminals took refuge in the Sundarbans from the advancing armies of Emperor Akbar. Many have been known to be attacked by tigers. Many of the buildings which were built by them later fell to hands of Portuguese pirates, salt smugglers and dacoits in the 17th century. Evidence of the fact can be traced from the ruins at Netidhopani and other places scattered all over Sundarbans. The legal status of the forests underwent a series of changes, including the distinction of being the first mangrove forest in the world to be brought under scientific management. The area was mapped first in Persian, by the Surveyor General as early as 1764 following soon after proprietary rights were obtained from the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II by the British East India Company in 1757. Systematic management of this forest tract started in the 1860s after the establishment of a Forest Department in the Province of Bengal, in British India. The management was entirely designed to extract whatever treasures were available, but labour and lower management mostly were staffed by locals, as the British had no expertise or adaptation experience in mangrove forests.

Geography

The Sundarban forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Ganges, Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across southern Bangladesh. The seasonally flooded Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie inland from the mangrove forests on the coastal fringe. The forest covers 10,000 square kilometres (3,900sqmi) of which about 6,000 square kilometres (2,300sqmi) are in Bangladesh. It became inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The Indian part of Sundarbans is estimated to be about 4,110 square kilometres (1,590sqmi), of which about 1,700 square kilometres (660sqmi) is occupied by waterbodies in the forms of river, canals and creeks of width varying from a few metres to several kilometres.

The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. The interconnected network of waterways makes almost every corner of the forest accessible by boat. The area is known for the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), as well as numerous fauna including species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. The fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for centuries, and the ecoregion has been mostly converted to intensive agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. The remaining forests, taken together with the Sundarbans mangroves, are important habitat for the endangered tiger. Additionally, the Sundarbans serves a crucial function as a protective barrier for the millions of inhabitants in and around Khulna and Mongla against the floods that result from the cyclones. The Sundarbans has also been enlisted among the finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

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