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Wetland Specialist Study, Northeast Regional Water Management Plan, Bangladesh Flood Action Plan 6



This report is one of 13 Specialist Studies produced by the North East Regional Water Management Project (NERP), Item 6 of the Flood Action Plan (FAP 6). These Studies provide the information base for the NERP regional planning process, which is described in the Regional Plan (pp. 1-4).

This Specialist Study provides information on biodiversity in the region. The draft final version of the Study was limited to wetland biodiversity, reflecting: (1) NERP's emphasis on water management; (2) the presence in the region of several wetlands suspected to be of international importance; and (3) the limited extent of upland areas within the region.

In this final version, the focus was expanded to include upland biodiversity. This was done so that NERP would have information on these assets; to draw attention to them in the context of the national development process; and in recognition of ecological and institutional links between biodiversity in wetland and upland settings. In practical terms, however, the upland field work and other investigations were much more limited than the wetland studies. Therefore, to avoid confusion and overemphasis of the rather sketchy upland information, the title Wetland Resources Specialist Study was retained. The upland study is documented in Annex E to this report.


The specific objectives of this study and report are:

  • To characterize the region's wetlands and their values;
  • To identify driving forces, issues, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the region's wetlands;
  • To establish wetland management objectives, so that these can be incorporated, as far as is appropriate, into overall regional development objectives;
  • To identify key wetland management initiatives for further pre-feasibility study and possible inclusion in the Regional Plan; and
  • To identify areas of upland biodiversity and assess their current extent and condition, identifying ecological and institutional links with wetlands
Underlying these objectives is the perspective that biodiversity has value to local people and to the nation. Biodiversity provides a range of goods and services, some with clear economic value, some intangible or taken for granted, which contribute to basic human needs and to economic development. The challenge will be to secure these benefits for future generations of Bangladeshis - not to preserve biodiversity for its own sake, or for the sake of scientists, tourists, or drug consumers in richer countries.


The description, analysis, and proposals presented here are based on:

  1. Field studies of the wetlands of the Northeast Region during the period December 1991 to May 1993. These accounted for the greater part of the total investigations, and focused on:
    • Wetland appraisal and identification of key sites,
    • Wild wetland plants, including trees,
    • Waterfowl and wetland-dependent birds,
    • Wetland wild life, and
    • Wetland seasonal changes.
  2. Village-level participatory studies with local people of six villages: two villages near each of three key wetland sites during the period January 1994 to March 1994.
  3. Brief visits to the various upland areas of the region during the period January 1994 to May 1994.
Each of these areas of field work was complemented by information gained through literature review, visits to similar wetland sites in India, and discussions with individuals in Bangladesh and elsewhere involved in related work.


Other NERP Subteams in Fisheries, Agriculture, Sedimentation, Hydrology/Geohydrology, Social Anthropology, Water Resources, and Economics covered these other aspects of the region and, in cooperation with the Wetland Subteam, its wetlands. Most of these groups are reporting their findings in their own Specialist Studies. Relevant information from these disciplines has been incorporated here where appropriate, for example, in the Ramsar sheets describing the key wetland sites (Annex C).


This report is organized into a main report of eight chapters, followed by six annexes. References and figures appear after the last chapter. The organization of the body of the report parallels the regional planning process and the Regional Plan main volume outline, to allow straightforward incorporation of wetland driving forces, issues, and so forth into their regional analogues. The annexes provide complementary or more detailed information, much of it oriented toward readers with specific technical interests. In particular, all information related to the upland study appears in Annex E; the main report deals only with wetlands.


A draft final version of this report was issued in April 1993. This final version reflects comments from CIDA and BWDB, plus additional information and analysis from the NERP team as a whole, and the Wetland Subteam. The list of key wetland sites has been expanded from six to nine; the new sites are Kaliajuri Area, Companiganj Area, and Bara Haor. New information has been added documenting the results of investigations of upland biodiversity, and of local people's perceptions of the history and value of nearby wetlands. A habitat type, flood plain grassland, has been added. Additional information on wetland animals has been provided. The species lists have been revised. An executive summary has been added.

A draft final version of the project pre-feasibility study Northeast Region Environment Management, Research, and Education Project (NEMREP) was issued in December 1993. Material from the draft final Specialist Study was extensively extracted and revised for use in this report. Some of this information has been re-inserted into this final Specialist Study. In addition, information on the proposed key biodiversity management initiatives, newly written for the NEMREP study, has replaced the former contents of Chapter 7, previously named Key Wetland Management Initiatives.

A draft final version of the project pre-feasibility study Flood- and Erosion-Affected Villages Development Project (FEAVDEP) was issued in mid-1994. A major component of this project is afforestation and habitat restoration around villages in the deeply flooded area, both to protect from wave erosion and to provide local people with a range of biomass products for building materials, fodder, fuel, food, and other uses. Text from this report has not been included here, but includes much additional information on wetland vegetation, in particular the potential for afforestation/habitat restoration.

The Fisheries Specialist Study identifies a number of mother fisheries (see Glossary). The four largest of these, Kaliajuri Area, Tangua Haor, Hakaluki Haor, and Kawadighi Haor, are also identified here as key wetland sites. Information from the Fisheries Specialist Study has been incorporated into the Ramsar sheets describing these and other key sites (Annex C).


The information provided here was presented and discussed in a seminar entitled Biodiversity, Wetlands, and Surface Water Quality of the Northeast Region held on 6 April 1994 in Dhaka. In addition, members of the Wetland/Biodiversity Subteam participated in several of the district-level seminars. Seminar proceedings are published as NERP reports.


The NERP Wetland Subteam consists of:

Field Research Team, Nature Conservation Movement
Anisuzzaman Khan Project Coordinator/Wildlife Study Leader
Dr. Salar Khan Flora Advisor
Dr. Ansar Karim Flora Study Leader
S.M.A. Rashid Ornithology Study Leader/Wildlife Biologist
Istiak Sobhan Flora Researcher
Abu Saeed Ornithologist



Participatory Village Studies Team, IDEA

Kalpona Bose
Milon Chowdhury
Matiur Rahman
Saroj Talukdar
Shuli Talukdar



Wetland Appraisal and Main Ornithology Surveys

Dr. Derek Scott, International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau
Environment Specialist
Dr. Sara Bennett, SLI/NHC Joint Venture
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