The Sundarbans is a vast forest in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and considered one of the natural wonders of the world. Located in the delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins, this unique forest extends across Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat districts of Bangladesh and South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, India. The Sundarbans contain the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest, with an area of about 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi), of which about 6,000 km2 (2,300 sq mi) are located in Bangladesh and about 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi) in India. The Bangladeshi and Indian parts of the Sundarbans, while in fact adjacent parts of the uninterrupted landscape, have been listed separately in the UNESCO World Heritage List: as Sundarbans and Sundarbans National Park, respectively. Indian part is not yet recognized as a Ramsar site.
The Sundarbans is a network of marine streams, mud shores and mangrove forests. The salinity level is higher in the mangroves than in the freshwater swamp forests located further inland. The Sundarbans flora is characterised by the abundance of sundari, gewa, goran and keora all of which occur prominently throughout the area. The region is also known to contain numerous wildlife species, birds and reptiles, including Bengal tiger, chital, crocodile, snakes many of which are considered endangered. Despite a total ban on all killing or capture of wildlife other than fish and some invertebrates, it appears that there is a consistent pattern of depleted biodiversity or loss of species in the 20th century, and that the ecological quality of the forest is declining.
The Directorate of Forest is responsible for the administration and management of Sundarban National Park in West Bengal, whereas A new Forest Circle was created in Bangladesh back in 1993 to preserve the forest, and Chief Conservators of Forests have been posted since. Despite preservation commitments from both Governments, the sunderbans are under threat from both natural and manmade sources. In 2007 the landfall of Cyclone Sidr damaged around 40% of Sundarbans. The forest is also suffering from increased salinity due to rising sea levels and reduced freshwater supply. The proposed coal-fired Rampal power station situated 14 kilometres north of the Sundarbans is anticipated to further damage this unique forest.
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