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The Impact of Cyclone Aila on the Sundarban Forest Ecosystem

S. Rahman, H. Rahman, S. Shahid, R.U. Khan, N. Jahan, Z. U. Ahmed, R. Khanum, M. F. Ahmed, M. Mohsenipour


Climate change is expected to increase stress on mangrove forests across the globe in multiple pathways. Changes in sea level, temperature, tropical cyclones, saline water invasion, land inundation, ocean acidification, invasive species due to climate change. Livelihoods of above hundred million people depending on mangrove forest ecosystem services, mostly living in developing countries will be severely affected due to climate change. The impacts of recently occurred tropical cyclone Aila (May 25, 2009) on Sundarban mangrove forest ecosystem in Bangladesh has been assessed in this research in order to understand the possible impacts of climate change induced extreme weather events on forest ecosystem services. Time series of satellite images, socio-economic census data, focus group discussions (FGD) outcomes, and other ancillary information have been analyzed for this purpose. The study revealed that cyclone Aila caused incremental stresses on the socioeconomic conditions of coastal communities through rendering huge areas of land unproductive for a long time, and in some cases forever. People who were dependent on land resources for their livelihoods were forced to change their livelihood on forest resources, which in turn caused increased pressure on already stressed forest resources. It is concluded that increasing frequency and severity of climate change induced extreme events will certainly increase pressure on forest ecosystem services, which eventually may pose threat of extinction to biodiversity of Sundarban mangrove forest, if necessary adaptation measures are not taken.

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