Wood is the main fuel for cooking and other domestic requirements. It is not surprising that population pressure has had an adverse effect on the indigenous forests. By 1980 only about 16 percent of the land was forested, and forests had all but disappeared from the densely populated and intensively cultivated deltaic plain. Aid organizations in the mid-1980s began looking into the possibility of stimulating small-scale forestry to restore a resource for which there was no affordable substitute.
The largest areas of forest are in the Chittagong Hills and the Sundarbans. The evergreen and deciduous forests of the Chittagong Hills cover more than 4,600 square kilometers and are the source of teak for heavy construction and boat building, as well as other forest products. Domesticated elephants are still used to haul logs. The Sundarbans, a tidal mangrove forest covering nearly 6,000 square kilometers along the Bay of Bengal, is the source of timber used for a variety of purposes, including pulp for the domestic paper industry, poles for electric power distribution, and leaves for thatching for dwellings. There is also a profitable semiwild honey industry based in the Sundarbans for those intrepid or desperate enough to risk it. Not only are the bees sometimes uncooperative, but the Sundarbans is also the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, and several instances are reported each year of honey collectors or lumbermen being killed by man-eaters.
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