Trees in countering adverse effects of climate change23 September 2022
Dr Matiur Rahman :
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and this is due to our geographical location, overpopulation, floodplains, high poverty rate and over-dependence on natural resources.
It is now continuously visible that global warming is increasing at an abnormal rate due to climate change. Also, food production and the availability of fresh water is declining. There is also an increase in environmental disasters, conflicts and mass migration worldwide.
Various infectious diseases are increasing. We are already dealing with dangerous infectious diseases like the Coronavirus and dengue. Diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and cholera are also on the rise. We regularly observe floods, droughts, fires etc., in different parts of the world.
Climate change affects human development and biodiversity conservation and threatens human security. No country knows its impact better than Bangladesh, where millions of people suffer each year. Rainfall in the monsoons has decreased, and untimely rain and flash flood damage crops, livelihood and shelter. Severe disasters like cyclones are also happening, and rising high temperatures and weather abnormalities hamperour usual activities.
Along with sea level rise, Bangladesh is facing severe impacts such as coastal inundation and erosion, cyclones, salinity increase, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, shrinking agricultural land and local migration. Scientists predict that, due to tropical storms and salinity intrusion into agricultural land in coastal areas, climate refugees will be increased in the future.
So in the face of this environmental disaster, we should try our best to plant more trees in rural and urban areas to adapt to the adverse conditions of our future ecological climate change.
It is said that every living being depends on trees in one way or another. A lack of trees and forests can threaten our existence. Given the increasingly crowded concrete jungle, we live in, planting more trees has become imperative, and it can also save us a lot of unnecessary expenses.
Scientists say a tree that lives for 50 years can produce $31,500 worth of oxygen, save $62,000 in air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water and prevent $31,500 worth of soil erosion. . Moreover, forest land contributes about 1.74% of the total GDP of Bangladesh.
Trees protect irrigation and aqueducts and keep rivers and harbour navigable. It also plays an essential role in protecting coastal areas from natural calamities. Forests protect the environment from pollution, and their contribution to biodiversity is immense. Forestry is a long-term production system, and multiple uses of forest resources have been recognized since the dawn of civilization.
Trees act as a natural habitat, helping various plants and animals survive. They provide food, nutrition, and a sense of privacy and security to wildlife seeking shelter in the forest.
Trees remove excess atmospheric carbon dioxide and air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides. In return, they give us the oxygen we need to live. Even biodiversity is enriched in turn.
Trees regulate climate by moderating the effects of sun, wind and rain. Trees moderate summer temperatures by providing shade and acting as insulation for homes in winter. Trees reduce soil erosion and help increase soil fertility, and rich soil builds nutrients in food, contributing to human health.
The greenery of trees adds colour to the landscape and enhances its beauty. Trees and shrubs planted around the house provide evaporative cooling and are excellent sound absorbers. Fruit trees fill our food and nutrition with different types of fruits.
Noise pollution can be reduced to a great extent by planting more trees. Planting trees facilitate flood water management and reduce flooding risk by allowing rainwater to seep into the ground rather than overflowing.
Thus, we should do our best to plant more trees in rural and urban areas to ensure our future environmental, ecological, and climate security. The demand for clean drinking water can also be met by planting new trees. Forests and vegetation naturally slow down the flow of rainwater, allowing it to filter. By storing rainwater in underground storage tanks or reservoirs, we can increase the use of safe water.
Also, trees prevent freshwater from mixing with saltwater in the ocean. In Bangladesh, tree planting programmes need to be strengthened at the grassroots level to meet the forest product needs of the local population and prevent environmental and climatic degradation.
Through such programmes, we can increase our capacity to conserve soil and water resources and improve the socioeconomic conditions of our population. In particular, it can provide much-needed employment opportunities to the rural population.
Apart from that, we must increase our plantation efforts to meet the demand for fuel wood, small timber, bamboo, fodder and other minor forest products. We should plant more trees to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, and maximum importance should be given to these efforts.
(The writer is a researcher and