March 16, Dhaka: Arannayk Foundation has initiated Bangladesh’s first-ever program for identifying and assessing potential geographical sites for other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). Under this initiative, Arannayk Foundation will establish a national mechanism for the identification, assessment, selection, and documentation of at least 45 OECMs in Bangladesh by June this year.
Arannayk Foundation revealed this information during a workshop titled “Identification of OECMs in Bangladesh” held at Ban Bhaban in the capital today.
Speaking as the Chief Guest, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Dr. Farhina Ahmed said, OECMs will help achieve SDG targets which the Bangladesh government is committed to. She called for focusing on the constitutional mandate and national commitments for biodiversity conservation while addressing the OECMs. The local community will play the most significant role in executing conservation measures, their recognition will appear to be an important factor, she added. The Secretary also advised considering biodiversity-rich corporate estates and other institutional and private lands as potential candidates for OECM and motivating the landowners to conserve the biodiversity resources for the benefit of the nation.
Echoing the Chief Guest, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Mr. Iqbal Abdullah Harun as the Special Guest stressed creating motivation for the local community to conserve biodiversity. The assessment body of OECMs should include biodiversity and watershed specialist, he suggested.
While chairing the workshop, Md. Amir Hosain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) urged the local community, private sector, and government stakeholders to work together to make the OECMs successful thus preventing the loss of biodiversity.
In his welcome speech, the Executive Director of Arannayk Foundation Rakibul Hasan Mukul said, OECMs will be designed to achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity with associated ecosystem functions and services. Currently, there are 829 OECM worldwide, he informed.
Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Jahidul Kabir presented an overview of the global OECM program and the Bangladesh Forest Department’s outlook on it for the country. Dr. Mohd Abdul Quddus presented the methodology, implementation status and next steps of the OECM identification and assessment project of Arannayk Foundation and Ms. Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur from WCS Bangladesh presented her organization’s plan for the potential marine OECMs in Bangladesh. IUCN Country Representative Mr. Raquibul Amin also spoke in the workshop expressing his willingness to support the prospective national initiative on OECM.
Among others, high officials from the Forest Department, Department of Environment, World Bank, United States Forest Service, CNRS attended the event.
Arannayk Foundation has undertaken the program of identifying and assessing Potential OECM sites for national and international reporting for the first time in Bangladesh under an Innovation grant from the Sustainable Forest and Livelihood (Sufal) Project of the Bangladesh Forest Department funded by the World Bank.
Communication and Advocacy Lead