Bangladesh, favoured by a tropical climate, houses the world's largest stretch of mangroves forests (Sundarbans Reserved Forest) and plantations. Around half of the forests of the country occur in the coastal zone. People extract various goods and services from the mangroves. Nevertheless the mangrove forests are depleting. Although the extent of the Sundarbans forest has not changed much, its decline is of a qualitative nature. Mangrove plantations are increasing in area but they are losing growing stock. To arrest this, Bangladesh has adopted several strategies.
The ‘Sustainable Ecosystem Management’ strategy has now been adopted instead of the ‘Sustained Yield Principle’. Biodiversity conservation and enhancement has been taken as a key management goal. A zoning system is being developed for both production and protection purposes. The government facilitates alternative income for the local people by generating activities for the communities which are dependent on the forest. Different non-governmental organizations collaborate with the government in reducing the local people's dependence on the forest. Coastal plantations are erected to protect people from cyclones and to make the land more suitable for habitation. Through this greening of the coastal belt tree plantation is encouraged in coastal villages. Coastal embankments are being planted and leased to poor settlers in exchange for routine maintenance of the embankments. Plantations on newly accreted mud flats help in stabilizing the land, which can later on be settled by victims of erosion elsewhere. These adopted management measures do not only contribute to forestry resource management but also to the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the coastal communities. These efforts are at present being integrated into an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.