Evaluation of environmental sustainability of forest land use policies of Bangladesh
This study focuses on the influences of past forest policies in Bangladesh on environmental sustainability in forest land use and in human attitudes towards forest. The study concludes that colonial policy was inimical to sustainability in forest resource use. The colonial legacy and its prolonged persistence in the post-colonial period left a lasting imprint on the peoples' attitude to forest resources. People came to see themselves as resource users and considered that as government owns the forest, creating forest is the government's responsibility. Afterwards, with increasing population such as imprint has turned out to be a severe threat to the sustainability of forest. The study investigated forest land use policies in Bangladesh from their origin in the British colonial period to the present, aiming to inquire into the development of peoples' attitude to forest land use. Evidence suggests that prior to the colonial era, there were forestry concerns in the administration of ancient Bengal. However, there were no recognisable forest policies in conflict with peoples' culture and tradition. Traditional hill people used to practise both lowland cultivation and semi-permanent upland cultivation for subsistence. From the British era to the present, people have remained alienated from the forest. The long alienation of people from the forest has caused loss of the peoples' trust in the Forest Department. Forestry in Bangladesh still displays colonial influences. As a result, although an international movement is pushing environmental perspectives of forest land use, Bangladesh is facing difficult challenges in changing the attitude of people and of administration which originated from the discourse of colonial policy. However, efforts through the NGOs have seen partial success in participatory forestry. However, for the long-term perspective the policy needs to be reviewed and improved, encompassing the traditional forest areas, serving the interest of the target groups, improving institutional standards, updating the law and order situation and encouraging a changed discourse among the people.