The Tanguar Haor has been declared as the second Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance) in 2000 to signify its global value. Prior to the declaration, understanding its critical condition due to overexploitation the Government has declared Tanguar Haor as an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) in 1999. Due to its status as an ECA and Ramsar site, the Government (represented here by Ministry of Environment and Forest) has been keen to put in place a community based management system in Tanguar Haor.
The major obstacle for initiating a community based management was the ownership of Tanguar Haor and leasing system for its fisheries resources. It was owned by the Ministry of Land and short term lease was to be given to the highest bidder. In 2001, ownership of TH was transferred to MoEF and subsequently the lease system was banned effectively.
Under the National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project -1 (NCSIP-1), MoEF initiated a pilot project in TH. Under that project, a management plan developed with technical assistance from IUCN Bangladesh in 2000. In 2002, IUCN Bangladesh on behalf of MoEF has developed a proposal titled community based sustainable management of Tanguar Haor to seek donor commitment to fund the project. It was revised again in 2004. This programme proposal is a continuation of the effort of MoEF to obtain fund from donor to initiate a community based management for Tanguar Haor.
Among the donor communities, SDC has come forward and showed keen interest to support this government initiative, while other donors are more interested to see the initial results before committing for funding. Up on an official request from MoEF, IUCN Bangladesh had submitted a proposal on “Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor” to Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in August 2005. The proposal was reviewed by SDC and subsequently Mr. Peter Hislaire was appointed as an independent international consultant to appraise the context of the proposed programme. The consultant had series of meetings with the Government officials, NGO personnel and interacted with the communities living in Tanguar Haor. Based on this experience, the consultant proposed that activities in Tanguar Haor should be divided into following three stages :
Preparatory stage (18 months)
Development stage (36 to 60 months)
Consolidation stage ((36 months)
The current initiative covers only the Preparatory stage.
Vision, programme scope and approach
The international conservation values of the Ramsar site guiding the vision of proposed “community based sustainable management of Tanguar Haor” programme in Sunamganj is as follows:
“A co-management body managing natural resources of entire Tanguar Haor that is responsive to livelihood needs of the concerned communities as well as ensures that the resource base is used sustainably and that Ramsar values are maintained.”
The programme aims at building the capacity of the rural communities around Tanguar Haor to share in the management of water, fisheries, forest and reed bed and other resources of Tanguar Haor for generating income from the management, harvesting and selling of these resources.
The programme shall contribute to develop a natural resource information system for Tanguar Haor that allows the management authority to monitor trends and understand the ecological dynamics is in place.
The programme shall contribute to form and functioning of a co-management body (under the district administration of Sunamganj) for the ramsar site- including representatives of local communities and MoEF and local government.
The programme shall also play a facilitative role in formulation of coordination of protection measures, natural resource extraction modalities and measures to facilitate the delivery of social and economic services.
However, for the Preparatory Stage the goal has been set as “to initiate and test a pilot co-management system for Tanguar Haor and obtain necessary policy, administrative and community support to commence a comprehensive co-management system for Tanguar Haor in future”.