In the five major cities of the country, the amount of environmental destruction has increased rapidly in the last 30 years. In these cities, water bodies and forests have decreased, and biodiversity has been destroyed. between 1991 and 2021, the residents of these cities have been deprived of services worth about 60 thousand crore rupees. Such information has emerged in a study on Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, and Sylhet.
Nine people from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, New Castle University in Australia, Curtin University, Calgary University in Canada, Chittagong University, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, and Noakhali Science and Technology University did the research. The research was published earlier this month in the international science journal Ecological Informatics.
According to the study, all five cities were built on the banks of the river. Among them, Dhaka Burigangar, Chittagong Karnaphuli, Rajshahi Gangare, Khulna Rupsar, and Sylhet are built on the banks of the Surma river. Rapid population growth in these cities has put pressure on rivers and wetlands. The population is increasing at the rate of 11.5 percent in Dhaka, 5 percent in Rajshahi, and 4 percent in Chittagong.
Ashraf Dewan, a member of the research team and an associate professor at Curtin University in Australia, told Prothom Alo, “In these cities, including Dhaka, important water bodies and green areas for the environment are being destroyed. But from these elements of nature, we get temperature control, food supply, and a healthy climate. We are not getting services due to the construction of concrete buildings, roads, and various infrastructures by destroying these. In this, the temperature in the cities is increasing rapidly and it is becoming unfit for living.
In this situation, ‘Nature Conservation Day is being celebrated in the country today on Thursday. This year’s theme is ‘reducing the use of plastic to protect nature.’
Ecosystem services are defined in research as the services that humans and other animals receive when important features of a natural environment persist. For example, the concrete area has a temperature of 1 to 3 degrees higher than the water area. When the temperature is high, people use electric fans, air conditioners, and other things. Having green vegetation somewhere helps to reduce the temperature and create a habitat for fruits, herbs, birds, and animals. These are considered ecosystem services.
According to the study, Sylhet city has lost the most wetlands in 30 years. Dhaka residents are the most deprived of financial services due to wetland reduction. In 1991, 27 and a half percent of the area in Dhaka was green. In 2021, it decreased to 10.14 percent. Apart from this, Sylhet decreased from 50 to 20 percent, Khulna decreased from 40 to 32 percent and Chittagong decreased from 28 to 18 percent.
One of the members of the research team is a teacher at Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology. Sarfraz Gani told Prothom Alo, “The environment of our cities is being destroyed for the sake of some influential groups.”
The study assessed the financial value of 16 types of ecosystem services. These include clean air, recreation, carbon emission control, water supply, soil protection, and waste management. Due to the destruction of the environment, the city dwellers have to pay extra for these services.
The study emphasizes planned urbanization to reduce the financial toll of ecosystem destruction. At the same time, guidance is also given regarding what kind of preparations should be made to deal with the risk of damage due to climate change.