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Bangladesh: Are the Jhau plantations protecting or harming the coast? by Abu Siddique May 19,2017   |  Source: Dhaka Tribune

Over the last three decades, the government has been planting Jhau (Casuarina equisetifolia) trees along the southeastern coastline as part of a coastal afforestation initiative. The evidence however, raises questions as to whether the plants are indeed helpful in protecting the coasts or are in fact harming the sand dunes. In the last three years, Jhaus have been planted over 258 hectares along the coastline under a project titled Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project (CRPARP).
Of this, 183 hectares falls under Cox’s Bazar, said Md Humayun Kabir, divisional forest officer of Chittagong Coastal Forest Division.

The objective of jhau plantation along the coast, the project document says, is to have these plants “function as wind break and combat tidal surges.” But official data suggests that the trees themselves are vulnerable to tidal surges and high winds. Cox’s Bazar Divisional Forest Officer Ali Kabir informed the Dhaka Tribune that though the Forest Department planted around 294 hectares of Jhau at different times, currently there is only 190 hectares of Jhau left, and the rest of it has been destroyed in cyclones and tidal surges.

Dhaka University botany Professor Dr Mohammad Zashim Uddin told the Dhaka Tribune, “Usually,

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