Abstract

This paper includes a review of international sustainable forestry development followed by an analysis of forest policies in Bangladesh. There have been four different government forest policies in Bangladesh since 1894. The first two forest policies (1894 and 1955) were exploitative in nature. Most of the regulatory documents were developed during the first two policy periods. The third forest policy instituted in 1979 by the sovereign Bangladesh government had contradictory elements and mutually inconsistent policy statements. It addressed for the first time forestry extension through mass motivation campaign. Current forest policy formulated in 1994 has been considered to be the most elaborate policy in the history of the country. Under this policy, participatory social forestry has been institutionalized in Bangladesh. The analysis shows that, although it is possible to attain the stated policy targets, progress is slow and is blocked on several fronts. A number of identified technical, managerial and logistical problems are hindering policy and program implementation. In addition, corruption contributes to the observed problems. The real strength of Bangladesh forestry is locally based, participatory forestry, co-management of protected areas and highly motivated people who increasingly recognize the need for a healthy forest ecosystem that will provide future economic stability. Because it is the rich homestead forests of Bangladesh that generate the majority of commercial forestry products, it is important that education continues at the grass-roots level. In addition, educated forestry and environment professionals have been identified as the future driving forces towards better, and sustainable, forest management. Results of this study make it clear that Bangladesh and other developing countries are not presently in a position to accept and adopt internationally derived forest policies due to inadequate institutional support, political instability and poor governance. Therefore, along with development of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management and forest certification, international policy scientists must consider institutional development, professional skill development, identification and adoption of indigenous technology and long-term financial support in developing countries. Without these, all international processes, policies and directives will be of little value and produce few substantive results.

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