World Wetlands Day was observed on 2 February 2011 in Dhaka with the full focus on Tanguar Haor, a unique wetland ecosystem and the second Ramsar site in Bangladesh, which has both national and global significance.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest and IUCN Bangladesh Country Office jointly organized a discussion session to mark the day.
Addressing the discussion session as the chief guest, National Project Director, Dr Mohammad Nasiruddin, Joint Secretary for Development from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, drew attention to the importance of conserving our wetlands to save biodiversity.
“Wetlands are a major source of fresh surface water. Water supplies are dependent on healthy wetlands, and healthy forests help to support and protect wetlands. Forests in wetlands are valuable natural resources,” says Dr Mohammad Nasiruddin.
Citing the ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor’ project as an example, he says, “the Ministry of Environment and Forest established a model co management system through implementation of the project in Tanguar Haor with the help of IUCN, with the aim that it could be replicated to manage all other wetlands in Bangladesh”.
He urged all to build national consensus to preserve and conserve our wetlands according to the wise-use principle of Ramsar Convention.
He also says, “Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has rightly chosen ‘Forests for Water and Wetland’ as the theme of this year’s World Wetlands Day.”
The ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor’ project, implemented by IUCN Bangladesh on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, and with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, has received much praise for providing an alternative to traditional leasing systems.
Mr Farid Ahmed, Senior Program Officer, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, spoke about the organization’s support for the project and emphasized that time is needed to change people’s attitude and improve the capacity of communities to manage natural resources in Tanguar Haor.
Professor Niaz Ahmed Khan (PhD), Country Representative of IUCN Bangladesh, gave the welcome remarks, followed by a presentation by Mr AFM Rezaul Karim, Team Leader of Tanguar Haor project, on the importance of World Wetlands Day.
The event also served to launch the book ‘In Focus: Tanguar Haor’, which showcases a number of breathtaking pictures of the wetlands by Dr Ronald Halder. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the project’s community fund.
Over 100 academics and professionals from the public and private sector, representatives from various research organizations, universities and local community leaders of Tanguar Haor were also present at the discussion.