Bangladesh's location makes it one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to environmental disasters. Its giant network of rivers and vast low-lying flood plains make it both fertile and subject to erosion from flood, drought, and storms. As a result, protective coastal greenbelts, in the form of natural vegetation, can make the difference between life and death during severe weather and increasingly frequent, and deadly, cyclones. Mangrove forests, in particular, are critical to providing this necessary defense thanks to their intricate root systems.
UNDP is working with the Government of Bangladesh and local communities to plant mangroves along the southern delta's coastline. The programme is doing this by training local people to run mangrove nurseries and manage forests and then paying them, a move that will have benefited 5,000 families by the end of 2010.
"Many countries are recognizing the value of coastal greenbelts when it comes to protection against storm surges, swell waves and inundations," said Firoz, who has been receiving training in nursery management in Char Kukri Mukri. "It's very important I think to pick the right varieties, the right species and also to involve the communities in the plantations and the maintenance and the management of the plantations."