Economic activities decrease biodiversity in Hakaluki haor, the largest inland fresh water ecosystem in Bangladesh
Islam. M, Saha. N, Rahman. M
International Journal of Environmental Sciences Volume 2 No.2, 2011
947The wetlands provide the habitat for over 260 fish species (Rahman, 1989) and hundreds of thousands of migrating birds (Bird Life International 2004), and nutrition for millions of households in rural Bangladesh, particularly the poor. As many as 80% of rural householdscatch fish for food or to sell ( Minkin
., 1997; Thompson et al., 1999; FAP 16, 1995,)and about 60% of animal protein consumption comes from fish (BBS, 1999). In addition, poor and marginal households catch many small fish that are not included in official statisticsor policies, and use aquatic plants and animals for food or as feed for livestock. 200-300 plant species in Bangladesh are judged to be wetland species and an estimated 200 wetland plant species occurs in haor region (Karim, 1993; NERP, 1993a; and BNH, 1997).Haors are floodplain lake and swamp systems, usually described as “bowl-shaped depression between the natural levees of a river, that are flooded every year by monsoon floods fromApril/May until October” (Nishat
.,1993). Haors remain inundated for several month of the year and draining after the monsoon. Some permanent water bodies, or beels, remain inthe deepest partsHakaluki haor is the country's largest inland freshwater wetland ecosystem, located in theFenchuganj and Golapganj upazila, sub-district) of Sylhet district, and also Baralekha, Juriand Kulaura upazila in the Moulvibazar district. The Haor is located in the north-east of Bangladesh between 24.35nN and 24.45N latitude and 92.00'E and 92.08E longitude with anarea of 18,386 ha (CNRS, 2002).There are more than 238 small, medium and large interconnecting beels, some of which are perennial and others seasonal. During the dry season, an area of approximately 4,400 ha iscovered by beels. However, with the onset of the rains in the summer, the entire area floodsto about four-and-a-half times of this size (18,386 ha) and remains under water for up to fivemonths. During this period, all the beels are united as one large lake, or haor, makingHakaluki haor the largest freshwater wetland in Bangladesh.Hakaluki haor once supported plentiful wildlife and aquatic resources and was covered withswamp forest. However, in the recent times this has become a fast-degraded landscape andfacing increased pressures and threats from different sources including over use of itsresurces by local people (Choudhury, 2005). About 200,000 people live around the haor andall of them, more or less, are dependent on the resources of the haor for their livelihoods. Onthe basis of such threats and rapid degradation of the resources and in recognition of theurgent need to protect the unique ecology and biodiversity of the haor, the Government of Bangladesh declared Hakaluki haor as an "Ecologically Critical Area" (ECA) in 1999 under the provisions of the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995 (BECA) (CNRS,2002).Though a number of projects have been being implemented by the government incollaboration with several non governmental organization (NGOs) in Hakaluki haor, the present studies indicate that their conservation efforts have not been appeared to be effectiveas overexploitation of resources has been occurred regularly in the haor by the local people.This study investigates the nature of livelihood dependence and its impacts on naturalresources and biodiversity.
2. Materials and Method
An exploratory survey was carried out on Hakaluki haor to investigate the linkage betweenlocal people’s livelihoods and the resources of Hakaluki haor and their impacts on ecological