There is a new threat that could inflict serious damage to the Sundarbans: a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest mangrove forest in the world (UNESCO, 2016). The Bangladeshi company The Orion Group wants to build a coal-fired plant inside this irreplaceable ecosystem.
Such an act would have far-reaching consequences. First of all, 106 Royal Bengal Tigers currently reside within the Bangladesh Sundarbans (Inskip, Carter, Riley, Roberts, & MacMillan, 2016). The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the most threatened of all big cats (Hunter, 2015), numbering only 3,890 wild individuals and occupying just 4% of their historic range (Howard, 2016; Panthera, 2015c). Damaging the Sundarbans, one of their last strongholds, is the last thing the species needs.
Just as importantly, 1.7 million people live directly outside the Sundarbans. Extreme poverty forces most of them to rely almost entirely on forest resources for their survival (Inskip et al., 2013). Damaging the Sundarbans by building a coal-fired plant would seriously threaten their way of life. Bangladesh and India are also the countries most at risk from global climate change (Braun, 2010). Since coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, this is the worst place to put a coal-fired plant.
But we can help protect the people and tigers who rely on the Bangladesh Sundarbans. The Rainforest Action Network and CREDO Action have started a petition urging the U.S. Export-Import Bank to refuse to fund the project. The Orion Group has approached this U.S. government agency for financing, and we have to make sure they never get it.
Braun, D. M. (2010, October 20). Bangladesh, India Most Threatened by Climate Change, Risk Study Finds. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2010/10/20/bangladesh_india_at_risk_from_climate_change/.
The Rainforest Action Network’s statement on the project