A new $20 million ecosystems project has been launched to protect critical forests and wetland areas in Bangladesh from degradation.
Planning Minister MA Mannan and USAID Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming Isobel Coleman jointly launched the new five-year project.
The launching ceremony was held in a city hotel on Tuesday afternoon.
USAID Mission Director Kathryn Stevens also joined to launch the new project along with other senior government officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; and the Ministry of Land, including the Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, and the Bangladesh Forest Department.
The project will bring together government agencies and local communities to protect critical ecosystems, and build resilience to climate change impacts in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest in Khulna, and forests and wetland ecosystems in Sylhet.
The project targets two key areas, including the Sundarbans mangrove forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Royal Bengal tiger, and forest and freshwater wetland ecosystems of the Sylhet border region in northeastern Bangladesh.
The project will also help communities build long term climate resilience by adopting climate-smart agriculture approaches and learning business skills to diversify and increase their incomes, moving away from reliance on natural resources from forests for their livelihoods.
The new “Protibesh” programme builds on a long-standing partnership between USAID, the government of Bangladesh (GoB) and local community leaders to protect and sustainably manage the country's biologically rich landscapes and ecosystems.
Applying lessons learned from previous interventions to strengthen environmental governance and sustainable forest and wetland management, “Protibesh” will be locally led by community members and GoB counterparts, including the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Land, and the Bangladesh Forest Department.
As a result of “Protibesh” conservation, and climate adaptation and mitigation activities, Bangladesh will be able to combat the effects of climate change, protect the country's critical natural resources a rich source of life and livelihoods for the people of Bangladesh and build resilience to climate induced natural disasters, said the USAID.
Over the past 25 years, USAID has worked closely with Bangladesh to combat climate change and strengthen environmental conservation.
Over this period, USAID has worked with local communities and government of Bangladesh officials to protect more than 2.5 million acres of wetlands and forest areas.
With Bangladesh among USAID target countries in USAID's Climate Strategy, USAID is working to substantially reduce carbon emissions and help countries adapt to the climate crisis.