1.2 million Rohingya refugee settlements have severely damaged biodiversity and depleted over 8,000 acres of reserved forest in Ukhiya,Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.The damage is equivalent to a loss of over Tk 2,420 crore($282 million), said a report of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. According to the report, a total of 6,164.02 acres of reserved forest have been razed to make way for the settlements in the upazilas. Trees have been chopped down for firewood in an additional 1,837 acres of forest. Of the 6,164.02 acres lost to settlements, 4,136.52 acres were natural forest and 2027.50 acres planted forest. The land belongs to the Cox’s Bazar South Forest Department. This environmental disaster already hampered ground water level,causing land slide & flash flood. The extreme deforestation has destroyed a popular corridor for wild elephants and some rare wildlife species are at high risk of extinction.Environmentalist said that the city would face more acute environmental hazards in near future as the forest had been serving as a shield against sea storms in Cox’s Bazar, since time immemorial.
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