An overview of social forestry in Bangladesh

--Haradhan Banik Deputy Conservator of Forest Education & Training Wing Department of Forest

Bangladesh is a densely populated country in the world and land is very scarce resource in the country. Here per capita forest is about 0.02 ha which is the lowest in the world. The forests of Bangladesh are situated mainly in the south-west ( mangroves), south-east and north-east (hill forests) and central-northern (sal forests) parts of the country. There was no national forests in the 28 districts of the country. But now due to social forestry almost all districts and localities there exists forests.

Forest area in Bangladesh

Total forest of the country is 2.52 million ha which is about 17.49% of the land area of the country. Out of :this total forest land 2.025 million ha is government forests as classified and nonclassified forests and 0.27 million ha is owred privately, populary called village forests. It is ertimated that in Bangladesh 83% is natural forests and 17% is plantation forests (NFA 2007).

Table: Forest area in Bangladesh.

Area o(Forests (Legal type)

Rcserved Forest (RF): 12,581, 37.411 ha, (sec20), 55446.526ha (see 4&6)

Protected Forest (PF): 3.6996.72 ha Aquired Forest (AF):11575.44 ha

Vested Forest (VF): 3139.862 ha

Water development board (Embankment): 7,120.00 km

Obiectives of Social Forestrv

w         Increse timber, fuelwood and other forest resources.

w         Socio-economic upliftment and poverty alleviation of the rural people.

w         Create employment apportunity

w         Environmental stability

w         Conservation and development of forests

w         Climate change mitigation and adaptation.


Agroforestry in real scence started in 1873 when Forest Department raised Teak plantation in Hill Forests at kaptai under Taungya system. In this system Indigenors people plant seedlings and grows agriculture crops in gaps. About 100 years latter in 1960 Forest Department introduced Forestry Extension through out the country to increase forest resources. Then in 1982 Forest Department introduced participatory Social Forestry and Agroforestry in the greater 7 north en districts of Bangladesh under ADB aided Community Forestry Development Projects. Then Forest Department extended Social Forestry activities through out the country except 3 Hill districts in 1988 under Thana Banayan and Nursery Development Project. Now Social Forestry and Agroforestry are popular Production oriented Forestry in Bangladesh.


Social Forestry Production System in Bangladesh

To fulfillment of the demand of timber, fuel wood and fodder for the rural people and future generation it is necessary to implement appropriate production and management system. Hence Forest Department Developed the following production technologies in social forestry sector in Bangladesh.

1.         Agroforestry

2.         Woodlot

3.         Village Woodlot

4.         Homestead agroforestry

5.         Tree Farming

6.         Muti Productive forests

7.         Strip Plantation

8.         Bamboo Plantation

9.         Cane Plantation

10.       Patipata cultivation

11. Hogla Cultivation

12. Agar Plantation

13.       Sericulture

14.       Apiculture

15. Lac culture

Social Forestry Activities

1.         Participatory Plantation

2.         Village Afforestations

3.         Private nursery establishment

4.         Institution Plantation

5.         Homestead Plantation

6.         Jhumia Rehabilitation

7.         Seedling distribution at low cost

8.         Social Forestry Training

9.         Participatory sal coppice management

10.       Participatory management of National park and Wildlife sanctuary

Social Forestrv models and Technologies

Forest Department has developed several models and technologies under Social Forestry, which are as follows:

1.         Feeder road Plantation

2.         Roads and high ways Road Plantation

3.         Embankment Plantation

4.         Rail road Plantation

5 .        Woodlot Plantation

6.         Riverine islands Plantation

7.         Foreshore Plantation

8.         Canal bank plantation

Traditional Agroforestry models in Bangladesh

There are five kinds of traditional agroforestry models in Bangladesh. These are as follows

1.         Date palm based agroforestry

2.         Pulmyra palm based agroforestry

3.         Jackfruit based agroforestry

4.         Dalbergia sisso based agroforestry

5.         Babla (Acacia ni1otica) based agroforestry

Tungva System

Forest Department introduced Tungya system in 1873.

FD Agroforestrv Models: Under Social Forestry 4 agroforestry models generally practiced in Bangladesh- These are

1.         Agri- Silviculture

Alley cropping

2.         Silvi- fishery:               Dyke Plantation

3.         Agr-silvi-pasture :

Jhumia Aroforestry

4.         Agri- Silvi-horticulture :

Alley cropping

Boundry Planting

Block Planting

Hill Agroforestry model

Forest Department developed 3 models under Jhumia Rehabilitation Programme in Chittagong Hill Traacts in Unclassed State Forests (US F) and 1 Participatory Forest Development model in Chittagong Hill Forests. These are as follows:

Land: Five acres or 2 ha lands were alloted to each jhumia family or participants in all the models.

Agroforestry Model No-l

0. 50 acre land for household settlement and agricultural crop.

0.50 acre land for bamboo and cane cultivation

0.25 acre for pineapple

1.00 acre for banana

0.20 acre for lemon

1.00 acre for jackfruit

0.25 acre for guava

1.30 acres for miscellaneous (Tejpata,Papaya,Jalpai, Kul, Amra, Batabi-lebu, Bel, Satkara, Kasava and cashewnut.

Agroforestry Model No-2

0.50 acre household, settlement and Vegetable/ Kitchengarden.

1.00 acre for fruit garden

2.00 acres for Teak plantation

1.50 acres for Garmar Plantation.

Agroforestry Model No-3

1.0 ha for housing and kitchen garden

1.0 ha for agri-horti-silvicultural garden

Crops and cropping pattern

The cropping pattern is alley cropping following a Contour Planting Model. The features of the model is as follows:

(a) The terrain is hilly and undulating. Alley cropping wilth 15-18 m contour alley was practiced.

(b) In each 1-2 rows of tree were planted, where tree to tree spacing was 2m. In the alley space 2-3 rows of leguminous shrubs (Gliricidia sepium, leucaena leucocephala or grasses) hedgerow was developed. The controur hedgerows were trimmed regularly.

(c) In the alleys agriculatural crops was grown and not required itntensive land preparation (ginger, turmeric, Vegetables and hill rice).

Category of crops

Short-terms agricultural crops_Rice, brinjal, tomato, radish, arum, turmeric, ginger, pegeon pea, napler grass.

Mid-terms horticultural corps:_Lemon, guava, papaya, banana & pineapple.

Long-terms fruit and timber tree crops:_Jackfruit, mango and tree species lilke koroi ( Albizia pro cera) A lebbeck, Teak (Tectona grandis), Telsur, (Hope a odorata), Pynkado (Xylia dulabriformes) Gamar (Gmelina arborea), Garjan (Diptrocarpus spp)

Model No-4 Participatory Forest Development (PFD)

The wood cum agroforestry and cane component (2.0 ha) were established at flattopped ridge, upper slope, middle slope and lower slope. On the other hand boundry planting component were established with fruit trees.

The sequence of cropping pattern which is followed in PFD plantation area is given below. .

Urper Slope: Garjan, Acacia hybrid, Gamar, Silkori, Chapalish, cane as undercrop, Vegetables as intercrop.

Middle Slope : Teak, Chikrassi, Cane as undercrop, vegetables as intercrop.

Lower Slope: Sal, Telsur, Neem, Chikrassi, Cane as undercrop, vegetables as  intercrop.

Coastal Agroforestry

Triple F Model (3F Model)

Steps of the Triple F Model

1. Measure the land

On one ha we can build 8 ditches and mounds.


Ditch height/Dyke depth 2m

Ditch width at bottom/Dyke width at top 6.1 m

Ditch width at top and Dyke width at bottom 3m

Figure 1: Dimensions of the Triple F Model.

2. Earthwork :

Dig the ditches and put the soil up to build the dykes.

3. Prepare the land

Protect the land from coming rain by planning grasses. The grass will keep the earth in place and keep it protected for planting.

4. Dig holes for trees

On top of each mound we can dig 32 holes. We have to dig holes 6 feet apart, from centre to centre and fertilize each hole  preparing them for the planting of seedlings.  We can use some of the water to irrigate sapling and vegetables, if necessary.


w         Fruit trees: Quick growing and early yielding fruit trees such as bau kul (Ziziphus mauritiania) and apple guava (Psidium guajava) are planted on the mounds to generate income and produce food in the medium term.

w         Forest trees: Forest trees and palms (Cocos nucifera) provide timber, fuelwood from pruned branches and food. They also provide the land and communities with added protection from climatic extremes.

5. Plant seeds

When rainy season begins we have to plant seeds for vegetables and put tree saplings in the prepared holes.

w         Vegetables: Improved varieties of vegetables planted between the tree seedlings (for up to 5 years) provide households with immediate products for consumption. Scaffolding on the margins of the ditches extend the growing area by supporting creeper vegetables such as country bean, cucumber, bottle, bitter and sweet gourds (cucurbitaceous vegetables).

6. Add the fish

When rain fills the ditches with fresh water we have to add fish.

w         Fish: By excavating the ditches to 2m (figure 1), a single one can produce an estimated 140-150 kg of fish. They also double as a reservoir to collect rain to supplement regular water supplies for irrigating the plantations on the mounds.

7. Add the Duck

After adding fish add the Duck. It is necessary to add at least 1 male and 5 female in each ditch.

8. Cultivate

We have to nature the land and have to watch the plants grow.

9. Harvest

Within half a year we can get lots of vegetables. Within 1 year we can get 140 kg fish. Within 1-2 years we can get 10-20 kg fruit per tree.

10. The Forest

The mangrove forest protect the land (Dykes)  from tidal surges and erosion.  It also provides us with wood for fuel. We have to take care of it so that it can continue to protect and serve us.

Forest provides our community with long term timber, mid term fuel wood from punning branches and also food products.  If the land is not already protected well by mangroves, we should plant more to surround the model.

11. The Finished model

The triple F model consists of a combination of protective and productive vegetation, mounds and ditches, and a pond to support a fish nursery – all of which create multiple sources of income and mitigate the effects of climate extremes (figure 3).

Forest Department applied different tools and technologies for sustainable management of social forestry. These are as follows.

1 .        Social Forestry Training

2.         Participatory Benefit Sharing Agreement (PBSA): for ten ural night.

3.         Appointment of NGO

4.         Co-ordination Committee at district and sub-district level.

5.         Reorganization of Forest Department

6.         Legal reforms

a. Amendment of Forest Act 1927

b. Forest Policy 1994

c. Social Forestry Rules 2004

7.         Tree Farming Fund (TFF)

8.         Distribution of benefit-sharing

9.         Social Forestry management Committee

10.       Social Forestry Advisory Committee

11.       Tree Farming Fund Management Committee.

Harvesting and production of Forest Produces. in Social forestry and Agroforestry (1999-2000 to 2008-09)

Forest Department started harvesting social and agroforestry plantations from 1999-2000 and this is continued.

It is noted that up to 2008-2013, Forest Department harvested 44,408 ha woodlot, 10626 ha  Agroforestrly and 61739 km  strip plantations. A huge quantity of timber, fuelwood and poles were produced. Total sale proceed is BDT = 458,60,17,559/-. . The number of participants invovled is 1,05,633 and participant share is 208,03,28,033,  (Table-I) Due to benefit-sharing frem social and Agroforest the participarts gained a momentum.

Table-1: Statement of Forest produces and sale proceed of field social and agroforestry plantations from 2008-2013 in Bangladesh.

Aroforestrv as a Strategy for Resource Conservation

Agroforestry assumes a special significance as a strategy for resource conservation in Bangladesh. The following support this fact:

w         The forest cover in the country is being depleted at the rate of about 10-15 thousand hectares per year.

w         The scope of allocating more government land for forestry is extremely limited.

w         Per capita land in the country is very small and this is further declining with population growth.

w         More and more land is being diverted to non-agricultural and non-forestry activities.

w         Agroforestry is a very effective method involving people, the forest land encroachers, illegal forest exploiters and other people in the protection and management of forests.

w         Agroforestrly has been successfully used to stop further degradation of the forest by maximizing output and income

w         It has been successful in meeting the multi-dimensiona needs of the rural people for food, fodder,fuel, timber, construction material, agricultural implements ” etc

w         The rural people have also been able to augment their cash income through practice of agroforestry in their land.

w         Several agroforestry models have increased the awareness of the rural people for multiple uses of land and other resources including the forests.

w         Agroforestry has improved the economic conditions and hence the social status of the landless people, the destitute women, the unemployed and other under privileged rural groups.

w         It has helped many among the rural poor to have a self-sustained life style.

w         It has introduced a sustainable use of scarce rural resources, including the land and the forests.


Constraints to Agroforestry and its Promotion in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has experience in agroforestry. The Forest Department and the NGO’s have been trying for about a decade from now to involve the local people, especially the poor target groups in agroforestry activities on marginal lands and forest lands. Different models of agrofroestry have been experimented and are now being followed by both Forest Department and the NGO’s .The main constraints to practicing agroforestry are:

w         Land tenure issues

w         Lack of continuity, monitoring and proper supervision

w         Lack of continuity, monitoring and proper supervision

w         Lack of proper silvicultural management

w         Credibility gap between the government and the beneficiaries > Lack of proper inputs

w         Lack of marketing facilities

w         Lack of credit facilities

w         Lack of trained manpower

w         Lack of research backup

w         Lack of proper institutional arrangements

w         Top-down approach

w         Lack of recognition to role of women and other social groups

w         Information gaps in agroforestry promotion


Social Forestry and Agroforestrly play an important role in forest resource production, poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation, employment opportunities, forest conservation and development in Bangladesh. Now Social Forestry is vital for mitigation and adaptation to Climate Change.