News: Bangladesh trees to stop cyclones and floods

Bangladesh's poorOver 49.8% of Bangladesh's 144 million people live below the poverty line. 84% live off less than US$2/day. 41.3% live off less than 1 US$1/day. With those demographic poverty figures, not much is needed to push Bangladesh's poor over the edge.

Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, and tidal bores occur almost Sundarbansevery year. Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 metres (39 ft) above sea level. If the sea level would rise by one metre (3ft), it is believed 50% of the land would be flooded. No wonder the yearly cyclone season is a season of despair and disaster for many Bangladeshis.

Last summer the country was hit by two major floods while Cyclone Sidr tore through its coastal districts in November, killing Sundarbans forestat least 5,000 people and leaving tens of millions homeless and desperately short of food. Environmentalists said the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, stood as a "green bastion" against the cyclone. If it were not for the Sundarbans, the death toll would have been much higher.

The government of Bangladesh has now decided to plant 100 million trees to increase the effectiveness of the "natural fence" against frequent floods and cyclones. (Full)

Pictures courtesy NASA, Abdul Mannan (WFP) and Banglapedia


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