Nature Conservation

Bangladesh was originally a country of rich wetlands and tropical forests, but those vast expanses of wetland and forest habitat have been largely converted to agricultural fields, human settlements and fish and shrimp firms, particularly during the last fifty years. We get some idea of the vegetation and geography of this area from the experiences of early visitors.  A Chinese traveler named Xuanzang (also spelled as HieunTsans) who visited this area around 630 A.D. found it very marshy.  The British surveyor Francis Buchannan, who surveyed the southeastern Bangladesh in 1798 to identify areas suitable for the cultivation of spices, saw most of the area covered by dense forests.  Lord Guy Mounfort, who flew as a Royal Air Force pilot in the Second World War and then returned in 1969 to lead a World Wildlife Fund expedition, noted that the nearly continuous hill forests of Greater Sylhet from the 1940s had been decimated in the intervening years.  The rich wetlands of the country are, in some areas, still quite in their original state, but forests have suffered severely from over exploitation.