Resource assessment of deciduous forests in Bangladesh
This research makes a new assessment of both the physical and social dimensions of deciduous forest resources located in the central part of Bangladesh. Satellite remote sensing data and techniques are used to detect spatial and temporal forest change, to measure forest biophysical variables and to appraise their potential for developing model predictions based on a field survey conducted in 2003. Post classification assessment and regression analysis were the main methods in remote sensing data analysis. The study focused on a part of deciduous forest (64 sq km) located in Madhupur thana for fine-scale forest assessment. Remote sensing results suggest that only 16 percent forest left in the study area compared to 3826 hectares in 1962. The forest biophysical variables show strong association with spectral information of satellite data. For instance, an R-squared of 0.79 for predicted variable (for tree height) was achieved while regressing with field data, indicating that remote sensing methods can be efficiently used even in the tropical forests where heterogeneity is common. The second part of the thesis focuses on the underlying social factors/drivers that impacted on the forest, ranging from social dynamics such as land tenancy disputes,historical legacies and local corruption to policy failure by employing the theoretical framework of political ecology. Political ecological analysis in this research helped to evaluate the role and inter-relations of power, the ideological dilemmas and methodological disputes (i.e. the way forest problems are perceived) over forest resources in the study area. Field survey and observation was also found useful in gathering information about social variables by interviewing local inhabitants, forest officials, NGO activists, and politicians. The research employs methodologies from both science (i.e. remote sensing) and social science (i.e. political ecology) and the findings suggest that these two strands can work together for the better management (including resource assessment, monitoring and progress evaluation) of resources in Bangladesh.