Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the Local Government Division to promptly formulate a comprehensive master plan for optimal land resource utilization in all upazilas in Bangladesh. This directive was issued during a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, emphasizing the government’s commitment to rational land use practices. The Prime Minister also called for the development of a detailed land use master plan for each upazila to ensure efficient and sustainable land resource utilization. In addition, she instructed authorities to closely monitor and prevent unauthorized or illegal land use activities, emphasizing strict adherence to land use regulations.
The Cabinet Secretary, Mahbub Hossain, confirmed that the Local Government Division has initiated the process and stated that the Prime Minister has urged swift completion.
The implementation of these plans is expected to bring discipline to land use and contribute to the rational development of the country.
Land Use Classification Types in Bangladesh
Land use classification in Bangladesh is an important aspect of understanding the spatial distribution of different land cover types and their use across the country. Bangladesh, located in South Asia, is known for its diverse landscapes ranging from fertile plains to mountainous regions and riverine ecosystems. Land use classification provides valuable insights into a country’s economic activities, environmental challenges, and urbanization trends.
Bangladesh is classified into eight Land-Use and Land-Cover types (LULC)—agricultural land, shrubland, bare land, forest, flowing water bodies, permanent water bodies, settlements, and mangroves.
A significant portion of Bangladesh’s land is dedicated to agriculture, which is the backbone of the country’s economy. The fertile plains of the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta make up prime agricultural land. Rice paddies, the staple food crop, dominate the landscape, along with other crops such as jute, sugarcane, and various vegetables. The agriculture sector not only sustains the population but also contributes significantly to export earnings.
In 2021, the percentage of agricultural land in Bangladesh was recorded at 77.35% based on the World Bank’s compilation of development indicators from officially recognized sources.
Shrublands are areas dominated by shrubs, which are woody plants that are smaller than trees. These areas may have a mix of shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation. The total area of shrubland increased 1582 hectares.
This category represents areas without significant vegetation cover. It could include deserts, sand dunes, or areas with exposed soil and rocks. the total bare land amounted to 244,000 acres which was 150,000 acres as per the previous census.
According to the most recent census, the nation’s total arable land area is 18.68 million acres, down from approximately 19.1 million acres in the 2008 Agriculture Census. In addition, the total area of uncultivated land was 244,000 acres, up from 150,000 acres in the previous census.
Forests are areas dominated by trees and other woody vegetation. They play a crucial role in biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and ecological balance.
Bangladesh’s entire forest area is 2.6 million hectares or roughly 17.4% of the nation’s total land area.
Flowing Water Bodies
This category includes rivers and streams, representing areas where water is flowing. Bangladesh is a nation of rivers. Approximately 230 rivers run through Bangladesh at the moment, both in the summer and the winter, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).
Permanent Water Bodies
This category encompasses features like lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water that are relatively stable and not subject to significant changes in water levels. The total area of Wetlands in Bangladesh is about seven or eight million hectares, which constitutes about 50 per cent of the land surface of the country.
Settlements refer to areas where human habitation is concentrated, including cities, towns, villages, and other urban or rural developments. In Bangladesh homesteads cover 11,227 sq km.
Mangroves are coastal ecosystems consisting of salt-tolerant trees and other vegetation. They provide important ecological functions and serve as a habitat for various species. The Mangrove Forest covers 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) of which about 6,517 km2 (2,516 sq mi) are in Bangladesh.
Sustainable Land Utilization Guide
To ensure efficient and sustainable land resource utilization in Bangladesh across various land categories, the following recommendations can be considered:
Encourage farmers to diversify crops to improve resilience against pests, diseases, and market fluctuations. This can enhance soil fertility and reduce the risk of monoculture-related issues.
Precision Farming Techniques:
Promote the use of precision farming techniques, such as drip irrigation and controlled-release fertilizers, to optimize resource use, minimize environmental impact, and increase overall crop productivity.
Integrate agroforestry practices within agricultural landscapes to enhance biodiversity, provide additional income sources for farmers, and contribute to soil conservation.
Implement efficient water management practices, such as rainwater harvesting and proper irrigation scheduling, to conserve water resources and mitigate the impact of changing climate patterns.
Implement programs for the restoration and conservation of shrubland areas, focusing on native species to maintain biodiversity and prevent soil erosion.
Community Engagement for shrubland:
Involve local communities in the management and protection of shrublands, creating awareness about their ecological importance and encouraging sustainable use practices.
Launch afforestation initiatives to convert bare land into green areas, helping in carbon sequestration, preventing soil erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife.
Soil Conservation Measures:
Implement soil conservation measures, such as cover cropping and contour plowing, to prevent degradation and enhance the fertility of bare lands.
Protected Area Management:
Strengthen the management of protected forest areas to prevent illegal logging, promote sustainable harvesting practices, and conserve biodiversity.
Invest in reforestation projects to increase the overall forest cover, contributing to climate change mitigation, water resource management, and habitat preservation.
Water Quality Monitoring:
Establish and enforce water quality monitoring systems to ensure the health of rivers and streams, addressing pollution concerns and preserving aquatic ecosystems.
Develop and enforce zoning regulations to manage land use in floodplains, balancing agricultural needs with flood control and preserving the natural flow of water bodies.
Implement wetland conservation programs to protect and sustainably manage lakes and ponds, safeguarding biodiversity and providing essential ecosystem services.
Community-based Management for water bodies:
Involve local communities in the management of water bodies, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility for their preservation.
Adopt sustainable urban planning practices to manage urban sprawl, promote green spaces, and integrate eco-friendly infrastructure for efficient land use.
Design infrastructure to withstand natural disasters, considering the vulnerability of settlements in a country prone to floods and cyclones.
Mangrove Conservation Programs:
Strengthen conservation programs for mangroves, including measures to prevent illegal logging, promote sustainable harvesting, and protect against pollution.
Community Involvement for mangroves:
Engage local communities in mangrove conservation efforts, emphasizing the importance of these ecosystems for coastal protection, fisheries, and biodiversity.
These recommendations aim to balance the need for development with the importance of preserving Bangladesh’s diverse land resources for future generations. Implementing a combination of policies, community involvement, and sustainable practices can contribute to the efficient and sustainable utilization of the country’s land.