The Sundarbans is the biggest halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is situated to the southern part of Bangladesh and stands on the Bay of Bengal. The area of this forest is around 6000sq.km. The name Sundarban means a ‘forest of beauty’. It is widely thought that the name has been derived from’Sundaree tree’ present in large numbers in this forest. It has been declared a World Heritage Site in 1997.
Around 200-300 years back the place was traced in history. The ruins of a city founded by Chad Sadagar has been traced in the Baghmara Block Forest. During the Mughal empire in this subcontinent the Mughal rulers leased the forest to residents nearby and subsequently it became an abode of criminals.Two-thirds of the Sundarbans is in Bangladesh and the rest one-third has fallen in the Indian side. The East,West and South are the three protected forests in Bangladesh is densely covered by Mangrove forest.
Royal Bengal Tigers and some other predators like leopard, jungle cat, fishing cats and leopard cats; but they have always been subject to human attack for centuries. Wild boars are also seen here.
The forest is rich in avifauna. Nearly 170 species of birds live in this forest. Birds like Open Billed Storks, Black Header Ibis, Brahmini Kites, Spotted Doves and many others are found in this forest.
Electric ray, common carp, silver carp, butter fish, saw fish are very common acquafauna in the rivers of the Sundarbans. Tree frogs are also found here. Pythons, crocodiles, king cobra, dog-faced-water snakes are very common reptiles here.
The Sundarbans has been a good source of literature. The source of Salman Rushde’s Booker prize winner novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ is based on the Sundarbans. ‘Padma Nadir Maghi’ by Mnik Bandopadhya depicts the rigorous life leading of the people living in the Sundarban region and this novel has been filmed by Goutom Ghosh, a renowned film maker of India. Shib Shankar Mitra has written a novel named ‘Sundarbanay Arjun Sardar’. ‘The HungryTide’ a novel written by Amitav Ghosh depicts the life style of the people of this region. In Bengali Folk Epic ‘Manasa Mangal’ there is the reference of Netaidhopani and Behula’s quest for reviving her husband Lakhindar dead by snakebite.
The sundarbans plays a vital role on the national economy of Bangladesh. This forest has been a good source of earning for a certain class of people directly or indirectly. The forest provides raw materials for the wood based companies. The forest provides 45% timber and fuel wood of the total demand of Bangladesh. The forest supplies thatching material ‘Golpata’ in large numbers. Honey collectors collect honey and bees-wax from this forest. This forest is also a good source of pulp-wood.