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SERVICES OF THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE SUNDARBANS

Heritage site the Sundarban offers multiple services and credits for the country and nations. It is evident that a heritage site is an excellent place for tourism that conserves the local culture and tradition for livelihood development. The services provided by Sundarban are direct (provisioning) services, ecosystem services, protection or regulatory services, cultural (tourism) services, and support services for livelihood sustenance. Table 4.2 shows the different services provided by the Sundarban. It was reported that the World Heritage Site Sundarban provided revenue worth of USD 879,181 in 2013 (Forest Department, 2018).

TABLE 4.2 Sendees Provided by Sundarbans.

Direct sen ices

Ecosystem sendees

Heritage sendees

Protection sendees

Support sendees

Timber (Heritera fames;

Sonneratia apetala)

Pollination

Aesthetic

Cyclone and storm.

Biodiversity

Fuel (Ceriops decandra)

Soil formation

Ecotourism

Tidal singes

Habitats for animals

Food

(Nypa faults and nolen gur)

Water purification

Heritage and identity

Flood

Habitats for plants

Thatching materials (Nypa fauiticans)

Pollution abatement

Local culture

Soil erosion

Soil stabilization

Raw materials for paper (Excoecaiia agallochd)

Carbon sequestration

Recreation

Nutrient recycling

Breeding ground

Housing materials

Climate regulation

Education and research

Seeds germination/seedling Protection from anchorage sedimentation

Fishes

Food chain

Holy place

Protection from salt intrusions

Biomass formation

Honey

Medicinal plant

Mollusk

Crab

Wild animal (Deer, snake, crocodile, dolphin)

Fooder

Social cohesion

Existence

National forest of Bangladesh Inspiration for nature lovers Tradition of local livelihoods

Spiritual

Sense of place

Crop pest regulation

Employment

Source: Adapted from Forest Department (2018).

Cultural and Ecosystem Services from a Natural Heritage

4.3.3.1 DIRECT SERVICES

The Sundarban makes a direct contribution of revenues through provisioning services for timber fuel, honey, fish, thatching materials for livelihood support, and the economic development of the country. Well managed selective method of extraction forest goods and nontimber forest products are the key tools for the sustainability of mangrove forests.

4.3.3.2 ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

A range of ecosystem services provided by the world heritage Sundarban include water recycling, oxygen production, carbon storing and recycling, waste recycling, pollination services, and soil formation. The safeguarding of water quality, balancing salinity, and deposit ruling are important functions of the Sundarban (Mohiddin et al., 2015). Carbon sequestration is one of the important ecosystem services provided by the Sundarban. It was assumed that the carbon reserve of Sundarban possibly will be around 112 million tons amounting to 0.56-1.68 million each year. Hossain (2014) reported that it provides protection from the storm and coastal erosion and ecosystem services with USD 273-714 million per year. The World Heritage Site also provides CES to maintain coastal ecosystem services and conservation from nonutilitarian perspectives (Chaktaborty et al., 2018). CES render numerous benefits to humans such as aesthetic, spiritual, psychological, and nonmaterials (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Till now, the services of CES are not well recognized when compared to other services including provisioning, regulating, and supporting services (Rodrigues et al., 2017).

4.3.3.3 CULTURAL (HERITAGE TOURISM) SERVICES

It is well known to all that the Sundarban is a tourism destination and provides natural attractions to the visitors including the Royal Bengal Tiger, estuarine crocodile, mangrove vegetation, and different avian. Diverse heritage services are provided by the Sundarban through domestic and international tourism activities. These services include ecotourism, World Heritage Site, national reserved forest in Bangladesh, a place of tradition (rashmela), country branding value, demonstrate local culture, inspiration source, education and research value, and traditional livelihoods. The World Heritage Site Sundarban provides a home of cultural services including education, tourism, ethnic festivals, and adoration by local people. It is not the only motto of people to go to a place (historic) for sightseeing. The tourists are curious to gain knowledge and experience. The tourists visit the natural heritage site to understand the importance of a place and history of many cultures. Total USD 1,056,036 revenue was collected during the period of 2003-2017. It was found that the highest number of tourists visited Sundarban in the year 2016 (Table 4.3). In the year 2017, total visitors were 191,990 individuals of which 1,888,965 were domestic visitors and 3025 were international visitors. Corresponding figures, the fewer numbers of visitors found in the year of 2009 and 2015 due to political instability. The diversified characteristics of Sundarban attract the tourist from local to globe and play an important role in economic contribution. The most attractive tourist places in Sundarban are Kotka, Kachikliah, Nilkomol, Nilkomol, Shekhetek, and Bari Temples. The income from tourism is also contributed to the economy either directly and indirectly. These places are very much vulnerable to natural calamities especially sea level rising that will affect tourism in the world natural heritage site (Sundarban). According to Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, 5 out of 18 spots are in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. Two important spots are located in the Sundarban out of five spots in the coasts. Several festivals and special events are celebrated within Sundarban and its adjoining places that can attract tourists as mentioned by the FGD participants. River cruising, fishing, beach relaxation, walking, bird, dolphin and wildlife watching, jungle trails, and boat trips are the most important activities for the tourists. Such types of activities attract both local and international communities to come and experience. Visitors come to the Sundarban for recreation and enjoyment. Many students come here for learning and field exposure. They enjoy the wild animals (deer, monkey, wild boars, different kinds of birds, and crocodile. They mostly come to see plants like Sundri, Keora. Baen, and Goal pata. Pneumetaphore is the key attraction for them.

4.3.3.3.1 Entry Points and Visitors

Four formal entry points have been reported by the Forest Department. These entry points are Chandpai, Dacope, Munshigonj, and Sharankhola.

The maximum numbers of visitors entered the site through Chandpai followed by Munshiganj, Sharankhola, and Dacope, respectively (Fig. 4.3). The number of visitors, revenue, and entry points were considered during the period of2012-2017. It was found that the highest numbers of international tourists entered Sundarban through Chandpai followed by Sharankhola, Munshiganj, and Dacope. Respondents mentioned that communication is easy through Chandpai.

TABLE 4.3 Status of Visitors and Revenue Generated from Tourism.

Year

Total number of visitors

Domestic visitors

International visitors

Total revenue

(USD)

2003

59,169

58,737

432

19,298

2004

50,093

49,366

727

29,071

2005

48,828

46,887

1941

33,729

2006

71,202

69,078

2124

29,314

2007

94,214

92,632

1582

48,637

2008

96,002

94,745

1257

41,743

2009

85,188

83,709

1479

39,371

2010

99,877

97,721

1706

63,115

2011

119,256

117,100

2156

82,398

2012

39,350

37,493

1857

47,803

2013

105,968

102,905

3063

115,656

2014

137,129

133,725

3404

119,694

2015

88,653

85,941

2712

94,587

2016

191,990

188,965

3025

188,947

2017

129,853

128,345

1508

102,673

Total

1,416,772

1,387,349

28,973

1,056,036

Source: Adapted from Forest Department (2018).

4.3.3.3.2 Purpose of Visit

Respondents mentioned about the nine purposes of the visitors to come in the Sundarban. Education, research, excursion, see wildlife, enjoy beauty, see plant species, riding boat, recreation, and enjoy holidays are the purpose of visitors to come Sundarban. Most of the visitors come for enjoyment and excursion (Fig. 4.4).

Visitors (number)

■ Domestic vistors ■ International visors ■ Total vistors

  • 493371
  • 506980

FIGURE 4.3 Entry points and number of visitors.

Purpose of visit (%)

■ Education

■ Research

■ Excursion

■ See wildlife

■ Enjoy beauty

■ See Plant species

■ Riding boat

■ Recreation

■ Enjoy holidays

FIGURE 4.4 Purpose of visits.

4.3.3.3.3 Visitors/Tourists

The satisfaction level of tourists depends on several factors. The factors including the tourists’ number who are visiting the place, their comments, continue to stay as well their aspiration to make replicate visits. Usually, the visitor makes comments just after visiting the place. Regarding the beauty and uniqueness of the sites, the visitors are satisfied but in relation to the products, the visitors are skeptical. They reported that the quality and readiness of the products are limited. It is found from Table 4.2 that the number of tourists visiting Sundarban is increasing with time. Both national and international tourists are not pleased since tiger sighting in the wild at the heritage site is exceptional. Few of them did not want to visit yet again to Sundarban. In the year 2015, the beach city Coxsbazar did not see a sizeable inflow of tourists, owing to the ongoing political tension that has claimed many lives and made traveling less desirable.

4.3.3.4 PROTECTION OR REGULATORY SERVICES

As the natural heritage site, the Sundarban has been paid attention in the world for conservation and protection. It provides lots of protection and regulatory seivices such as protection from cyclones, tidal singes, flood, erosion control, and carbon storage or sequestration. The Sundarbanprovides excellent regulation seivices. It saves lives and assets of community people adjacent to the Sundarban. The site also acts as a safeguard or barrier to the storms and cyclones. Roots and trees of mangr ove provide protection from tidal singes, storms, seepage, and salinity intrusion (Walters et al., 2008).

4.3.3.5 LIVELIHOOD SUPPORT

The heritage Sundarban has been provided livelihood support for the forest dwellers and neighboring forest people through provisioning seivices, ecosystem seivices, regulatory seivices, and cultural (tourism) seivices. In case of heritage tourism (cultural seivices), the community people get employment through several activities. The employment seivices have been generated through guide seivices, preparation of food, fair (rashmela), pottery, folk songs, folk medicine, local transport (boat, van, and rickshaw), support seivices, staff in the hotel, restaurant, and handicrafts preparation. Sundarban is an excellent site for livelihood development. It occupies a lot of people for diversified livelihoods opportunities including fishing, collection of fuel, timbers, honey, goalpata, and crabs. It was reported by the FGD participants that around 55% of respondents earned their 70%-80% income from provisioning sendees. It was reported that more than 3.5 million people depend on Sundarban directly for their livelihoods (Mozumder et al., 2018). Engagement of local community for facilitating ecotourism might be contributed local economy significantly (Mukherjee et al., 2014). The respondents opined that there is an urgent need of ecotourism activities for the conservation of the heritage site. Fishing is the most common and important income-generating activity that provides livelihood support. The people deployed in this profession through the local trader or by the moneylender. The condition is that the people sell their harvested fish to the local leader or money lender. Mainly men were involved in fishing. Both men and women involved in fry collection. The second option for livelihood is fuelwood collection. They also lead their livelihood through crab collection, goal pata, and honey collection.

CONTRIBUTION OF NATURAL HERITAGE TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The Sundarban is a great natural heritage site in Bangladesh. It is also known as the World Heritage Site. It contributed toward the pillars of sustainable development. The participants from FGD have been provided valuable insights about the contribution of Sundarban to sustainable development. Sustainable matrix exercise has been performed for this determination. It was mentioned by the respondents that protection sendees are the topmost priority followed by ecosystem and cultural services, provisioning services, and support services. respectively (Table 4.4).

PROBLEMS WITH THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE SUNDARBAN

Several challenges hinder the opportunities of heritage tourism. Both natural and human-induced factors are affecting the natural heritage site for sustainability and conservation. Human-induced factors include illicit cutting of trees, encroachment of forest lands, diversion of fresh water, oil spill, navigation, shrimp cultivation, use of chemicals (agr ochemicals), pollution, and poaching. It has been identified that the plant giowing stock reduces from 296 to 144 during 1959-1996 in Sundarban (Giri et al., 2015). A similar observation has been made by Azizul and Paul (2015) putting emphasis on

TABLE 4.4 Sustainability Matrix and Contribution of Sundarban to Sustainable Development Goals.

Senices

Major products/services

Contribution of services to SD pillars

Total

score

Rank

Contribution to

SDG 14 and 15

Economic

Environment

Social

Provisioning

Sendees

  • • Timber
  • • Fuel
  • • Honey
  • • Fish
  • • Housing materials

5

2

5

12

3

  • 14.1, 14.2,14.4,
  • 15.1, 15.2, 15.5,
  • 15.9

Ecosystem sendees

  • • Existence
  • • Water recycling
  • • Pollination
  • • Climate regulation

4

5

5

14

2

  • 14. B, 15.5, 15.9,
  • 15. C

Cultural (Heritage) sendees

  • • Ecotourism
  • • Education
  • • Recreation
  • • Aesthetic
  • • Research
  • • Identity
  • • Spiritual

4

5

5

14

2

  • 14.2, 14.4.14.5,
  • 15.2, 15.5, 15.7,
  • 15.9

Capacity Building Through Heritage Tourism

TABLE 4.4 (Continued)

Sendees

Major produets/services

Contribution of services to SD pillars

Total

score

Rank

Contribution to

SDG 14 and 15

Economic

Environment

Social

Protection sendees

  • • Cyclone
  • • Storm
  • • Flood
  • • Tidal surges
  • • Insect pests

5

5

5

15

1

  • 14. BJ5.5, 15.9,
  • 15. C

Support sendees

  • • Biodiversity
  • • Habitats
  • • Breeding
  • • Soil stabilization
  • • Employment

3

5

4

12

3

  • 14.4,14.B, 15.1,
  • 15.9

Source: Authors and websites: https://sustainabledevelopinent.iui.org/sdgl4, https:7sustainabledevelopinent.iui.org/sdgl 5.

Score: ery important = 5, Important = 4, Moderately important = 3, Less important = 2, Not important = 1.

Cultural and Ecosystem Services from a Natural Heritagethe construction of Farakka banage in the upstream, coal-fired power plants construction, industrial pollutants, heavy metal deposition, and execution of the law. Nature also is impacting the site through cyclonic storms and tidal surges by eroding soil, destroying human settlements, uprooting trees, breaking stem, and branches. Several cyclones (Sidr in 2007, Aila in 2009, and Mahasen in 2013) caused huge damage to the mangroves and human settlement in the ruthless areas of the Sundarban (Aziz and Paul, 2015). It has been identified that a significant decrease (1.1%) of forest lands of total Sundarban during the period of 1970-2000 (Giri et al., 2015). Sundarban is reducing at an alarming rate. It was found that H. fames decrease 28.75% during 1989-2010 and total tree cover reduced 3% during the same period of time (Aziz and Paul, 2015). Infrastructure (road and standard hotel) and tourism products are not readily available in this site. Security is an important issue especially for the international visitors. The major challenges of managing Sundarban ecosystems are conservation and protection. Similarly, Chakraborty (2018) reported about axial coding and selective coding which is concerned with the mangrove sustainability. Tire quality of the tourist products in the Sundarban is not up to the standard. Tire engagement of local people in tourism activities is very minimal. Income generation for the community people from tourism or cultural services is very poor. Tire site is also lacking from the trained and qualified tourist guide. Eventually, the quality and services for the tourists are not available. The community people do not have hands-on experience dealing with tourists. Seasonality is also another problem for the tourist to make visit Sundarban. Traditional resource harvesters of the Sundarban are very much concerned about conservation, but TEK falls into a vicious cycle that is giving birth to huge corruption, liability, and bribe. Tire system would allow the nontraditional resource harvesters by enduring illegal activities such as poisoning upstr eam for fishing, clear-felling, and illicit cutting of wood.

 
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