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Tanguar Haor: A Decade-long Conservation Journey (2016)

  • Independent Consultant
  • Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Sylhet

Abstract and Figures

The Government of Bangladesh showed its commitment to conserve biodiversity and strengthen people's livelihoods in Tanguar Haor through wise use of natural resources. Ministry of Environment and Forests, in association with IUCN Bangladesh, launched a co-management project entitled ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor (CBSMTH)’ in December 2006 with the financial assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The CBSMTH project has given its effort to establish a co-management system involving the communities and the Government under an umbrella of formal institutions. Emphasis has been given on livelihoods development of the communities to reduce dependency on haor resources that ultimately helped for conserving biodiversity and maintaining integrity of the ecosystem. The production and publication of this book is intended to grasp the successes and lessons generated by the CBSMTH project at local and national levels. The book also captured impacts engendered, challenges faced, and future guidelines for wise use management of Tanguar Haor. The book will be useful to policy-makers, practitioners and researchers for taking any further initiative in future.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Bangladesh Country Ofce
Research Team
Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah
Dr. Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman
Dr. A.Z.M. Manzoor Rashid
Md. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury
Mohammad Wahiduzzaman Sarkar
Md. Wasim Newaz
Md. Mehedi Hasan
Md. Ahsanul Wahed
Mohammad Emran Hasan
The designation of geographical entities in this book, and the presentation of the material, do not imply the expres-
sion of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature concerning the
legal status of any country, territory, administration, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
The views expressed in this publication are authors’ personal views and do not necessarily reect those of IUCN.
Publication of this book is mandated and supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
under the ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project’ of Ministry of Environment and
Forests (MoEF) of Government of Bangladesh.
Published by: IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Copyright: © 2016 IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Reproduction of this publication for educational or other non-commercial purposes is
authorized without prior written permission from the copyright holder provided the source is
fully acknowledged.
Reproduction of this publication for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without
prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Citation: IUCN Bangladesh. 2016. Tanguar: A Decade-long Conservation Journey. IUCN, International
Union for Conservation of Nature, Bangladesh Country Ofce, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Pp viii+62.
ISBN: 978-984-33-9005-9
Graphics Design: Sheikh Asaduzzaman
Cover Photo: Reections of a calm afternoon in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Sakib Ahmed
Printed by: Progressive Printers Pvt. Ltd.
Available from: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Bangladesh Country Ofce
House 16, Road 2/3, Banani
Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh
Tel: 880-2-9890423
The diversity in ecosystems has given Bangladesh a unique character as it harbours a wide spectrum of ora and
fauna. Wetland ecosystems are playing a vital role for survival of human by providing clean water for drinking,
water for agriculture, cooling water for the energy sector, safeguarding biodiversity and regulating ood through
facilitating water ow.
One of the important freshwater wetland ecosystems of Bangladesh is the Haor Basin occurring in the low lying
plains of eastern Mymensingh and western Sylhet Divisions. These freshwater ecosystems are under threat of
multiple anthropogenic causes like over-exploitation, rapid urbanization and climate change.
Tanguar Haor is one of the largest wetland ecosystems in northeast region of Bangladesh. It is located in the
district of Sunamgonj (25˚06’-25˚11’ N and 91˚01’-91˚06’ E) at the foothill of the Khasia Hills. Tanguar Haor is part
of a complex wetland system of the Meghna-Surma river basin.
Administratively, within the total area of Tanguar Haor, there are two Upazilas (sub-districts) of Sunamganj district,
namely Tahirpur and Dharmapasha and four unions, namely Uttar Bangshikunda, Dakshin Bangshikunada, Uttar
Sreepur, and Dakshin Sreepur.
Tanguar Haor is an ecosystem that harbours 150 wetland plant species; 134 freshwater sh species; 11 amphibians;
34 reptiles including 6 turtles, 7 lizards and 21 snake species; 208 bird species; and 19 mammal species. For
uniqueness and being habitat of some globally threatened wildlife, this wetland has been declared as the 2nd
Ramsar site of Bangladesh in 2000. Earlier, in 1999, the Government of Bangladesh declared the Tanguar Haor as
an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA).
The Government of Bangladesh already shown its commitment to conserve biodiversity and strengthen peoples
livelihoods though wise use of natural resources. Ministry of Environment and Forests, in association with IUCN
Bangladesh, launched a co-management project entitled ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar
Haor (CBSMTH)’ with the nancial assistance from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The CBSMTH project has given its effort to establish a co-management system involving the communities and
the Government under an umbrella of formal institutions. Emphasis has been given on livelihoods development of
the communities to reduce dependency on haor resources that ultimately helped for conserving biodiversity and
maintaining integrity of the ecosystem.
The production and publication of this book is intended to grasp the successes and lessons generated by the
CBSMTH project at local and national levels. The book also captured impacts engendered, challenges faced, and
future guidelines for wise use management of Tanguar Haor. The book will be useful to policy-makers, practitioners
and researchers for taking any further initiative in future.
Stormy day in Tanguar Haor. © Sakib Ahmed
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government
of Bangladesh for their municent support towards implementation of the three phases of the project entitled
‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor (CBHMTH)’. Sincere gratitude also goes to the
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for its long support to carry out implementation of the
above-mentioned project.
We would like to thank all respected members of Tanguar Haor Management Committee (THMC), Central Co-
management Committee (CCC), Union Co-management Committees (UCCs) and Village Co-management
Committees (VCCs) for their support towards implementation of the aforesaid project.
Our sincere thanks goes to the National Project Director Dr. Md. Mohiuddin, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests and all former Project Directors of this project for their cordial support and guidance.
The implementing NGOs, namely HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, CNRS, ERA, BELA, and GUS deserve
appreciation for their continuous effort for successful implementation of this project. Thanks also go to Mr. Md.
Yahiya Sajjad, Programme Coordinator, CNRS and Md. Touhidur Rahman, Programme Coordinator, ERA for
arranging FGDs with the communities for the study team.
We humbly acknowledge the effort of district administration and local communities for successful implementation
and establishment of co-management model for Tanguar Haor resource management.
Our heartfelt thanks extended to all present and former staff of CBHMTH project team: Dr. Ainun Nishat, Dr. Niaz
Ahmed Khan, Dr. Mihir Kanti Majumder, Raquibul Amin, Dr. Istiak Sobhan, Md. Aminur Rahman, Zahid Hossain
Munshi, A.F.M. Rezaul Karim, Sayeed Mahmud Riadh, Md. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Murad Khan Wahid, M.H.M.
Mostafa Rahman, Druba Kanti Kunda, Raqul Islam, Mohammad Shahad Mahabub Chowdhury, Nadim Haider,
Mohammad Abu Baker Siddique, Mohammad Wahiduzzaman Sarkar, Abir Ahmed, Shahidul Haque, Shahid Ullah,
Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Mahfuzur Rahman Khan, Animesh Atal, A.B.M. Sarowar Alam, Md. Taizul Islam, Md. Mehedi
Hasan, Mohammad Rahmat Ullah, Abul Kalam Azad, Subrata Biswas, Abu Masud, Abdullah Mamshad, Wakilul
Islam, Mozammel Haque, Md. Abdul Alim, Anupom Mondal, Al Mamun Sohel, and Sumon Kor.
We are thankful to the study team: Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad, Country Representative, for his full support and over all
guidance, and Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah, Dr. Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman, Dr. A.Z.M. Manzoor Rashid, Md.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Md. Wahiduzzaman Sarker, Md. Wasim Newaz, Md. Mehedi Hasan, Md. Ahsanul
Wahed, and Mohammad Emran Hasan for making the publication a reality.
Abbreviations, Acronyms and Local Terms
AIGA Alternative Income Generating Activity
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Baor Oxbow lake
Beel More or less permanent waterbodies within haors that hold water all year round
BELA Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association
BDT Bangladeshi Taka
CBEM Community-Based Environmental Management
CBO Community-Based Organisation
CBSMTH Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project
CCC Central Co-management Committee
CNRS Center for Natural Resource Studies
CPG Community Patrolling Group
DC Deputy Commissioner; executive head of a district
DSPEC Departmental Special Project Evaluation Committee
EC Executive Committee
ECA Ecologically Critical Area
EEF Economic Efciency Focused
GoB Government of Bangladesh
GUS Gono Unnayan Sangstha
GB General Body
Haor A back-swamp or bowl-shaped depression between the natural levees of rivers and may
consist of a number of beels
HHBP Household Business Plan
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature
LIP Livelihood Improvement Plan
MoEF Ministry of Environment and Forests
MDG Millennium Development Goal
NCSIP National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project
NGO Non-Government Organisation
PRMP Participatory Resource Management Planning
PSC Project Steering Committee
SCM Social Capital Management
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
SDG Sustainable Development Goal
THMPF Tanguar Haor Management Plan Framework and Guidelines
THMC Tanguar Haor Management Committee
UCC Union Co-management Committee
UNO Upazila Nirbahi Ofcer; chief executive of an upazila (sub-district)
VCC Village Co-management Committee
VGF Vulnerable Group Feeding
Chapter 1:
Background: Wetland and Natural Resource Management 1-15
Perspectives of Wetland Governance and Resource Management
Wetland Governance and Co-management in Bangladesh
Co-management of Tanguar Haor − A Model of Collaborative Wetland Management
Chapter 2:
People and Ecosystem: Community Awareness, Aspiration, and Women Engagement
People’s organisations
Women Engagement and Awareness in Tanguar Haor
Community Perception and Conservation Awareness
Chapter 3:
Governance: Institutional and Legal Framework of Tanguar Haor Co-management 23-32
Institutional Development of Co-management in Tanguar Haor
Legal Arrangement of Co-management Organisations
Institutional Capacity Building of Co-management Organisations and Community Leaders
Community Patrolling and Resource Protection
Chapter 4:
Resources: Community People and Well-being 33-43
Financial Resource Management
Livelihood and Market Development
Ecotourism in Tanguar Haor
Chapter 5:
Conservation: Approaches, Strategies and Monitoring 45-56
Biophysical Feature of Tanguar Haor
Conservation Value of Tanguar Haor
Policies and Strategies for Conservation and Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor
Sensitised Stakeholders for Tanguar Haor Resource Management
Role of Tanguar Haor Management Committee (THMC) in Resource Conservation
Community Awareness of and Responsiveness to Natural Resources
Social Watch Group for Conservation Programme
Engagement of Law Enforcement Body for Protection of Natural Resources
Upazila level Monitoring Committee for Tanguar Haor Resources Management
Community-driven Conservation Initiatives
Community Patrolling System for Protection of Natural Resources
Swamp and Reed Plantation and Protection
Fish Sanctuaries
Sustainable Fish Harvesting Practice
Reduction of Community Dependence on Natural Resources
Conservation Efforts for Water Birds in Tanguar Haor
Chapter 6:
The Way Forward 57-62
Community Management of Natural Resources
Financial Resource Management
Livelihood and Market Development
Ecotourism in Tanguar Haor
Promotion of Climate-resilient Livelihood
Biodiversity Monitoring
Motivation, Awareness and Capacity Building
Swamp Plantation
Promotion of Climate Smart Stove and Plantation of Fast-growing Plants
Sustainability Potentials and Conclusions
Planted Hijol forest of Golabari, Tanguar Haor. © Sakib Ahmed
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 1
Wetland and Natural Resource
2Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Perspectives of Wetland Governance and Resource Management
From the Niles to the Ganges to the Amazon − rivers and the wetlands they harness have always been the cradle
of civilizations. Although freshwater wetlands occupy about 0.3% of the earth surface, they support some of the
most diverse, but often fragile, vulnerable ecosystems. Biologically, these are one of the most productive ecological
systems of the world. They support varieties of plant and animal life − some of these life-forms we can see, but
most remain out of our bare eyes creating the aquatic web of life.1
Wetlands are unique features of our environment that play an essential role in the stability and biodiversity of
ecosystems as well as in the functioning of the hydrological cycle. These natural ecosystems are therefore of
national and regional importance due to the varied functions they perform. Many rural communities deeply depend
upon wetland resources for their livelihoods and subsistence. The potential of wetlands to contribute to livelihoods
is closely related to their ability to maintain ecosystem services. This underscores the need to ensure a balance
between conservation and productive use of the wetlands.2
Although people have long been aware of the importance of wetlands, these ecosystems have become prime
examples of ecological systems that, despite their provision of benecial services, functions and products,
have suffered from negative impacts of human activities. The increasing growth of population coupled with the
advancement of modern technology has necessitated human intervention on these natural ecosystems. This has
resulted into the gradual loss of wetland resources. Such damages could specically be linked to some uncontrolled
developments activities, including extensive drainage and conversion of wetlands for agriculture, dams, mining,
infrastructure and urban development. Poor management of resources has also caused invasion of alien plants
and animals and the occurrence of genetic erosion. Thus, scientists have strongly warned that the rapid loss of
wetlands may lead to environmental and ecological problems. This would consequently have a direct impact on
the socio-economic benets of the associated societies. A clear challenge therefore has emerged in respect to the
link between sustainable development and wetland conservation.3
1 C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre. <>
2 Edward, C. (2008). Guideline for sustainable wetland management and utilization: Key cornerstones. Research Report. 55 pp.
3 Department of Environmental Affairs. (2013). Republic of South Africa. State of the Environment: Theme Articles. 7pp.
A splendid view of Tanguar Haor during monsoon. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The concept of governance has gradually evolved to control the discourse on wetland management while considering
the need to balance sustainable resources use with livelihood needs of people using the wetlands. The traditional
hierarchical model of governance has, in many locations, been replaced by other models of governance. In those
instances, the market, network, or community are dominant, without substituting the role of the state. However,
it is critical to understand what type of institutional framework would be required to establish wetland resource
governance which aims at sharing power between the state and the stakeholders for long-term sustainability in
resource management.
Wetlands, as a distinct and identiable form of water body, have been incorporated into the legal structures
underpinning management of its resources. The international arrangements that have impact on wetlands
reect the broad principles indicating how nature should be conserved, informing potentially enforceable legal
arrangements. The multilateral international agreements have somewhat focused on one or more of the relevant
and interdependent values of the wetlands. However, the ‘Ramsar Convention’ adopted in 1971 appears to be
the only international agreement which focuses directly upon wetlands. Actually, the Convention is the rst of the
modern global nature conservation effort with the mission that “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands
through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable
development throughout the world”.4
The evolution of later international arrangements under the Ramsar Convention has eventually helped to address
several issues by incorporating an ecosystem approach and an integrated approach to the management of
wetlands more generally. The ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ (CBD) of 1992 is a relatively recent and vitally
important instrument. The CBD in particular, signicantly extends what was included in the Ramsar Convention,
and strengthens international legislation relating to wetland protection.
In addition to the direct mechanism of wetlands management provided by the conventions noted above, other legal
instruments at national, regional and international levels, such as the ‘World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ of 1972
and the ‘ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ of 1985 have also continued
to govern the management of wetlands.5 More importantly, wetlands governance allying the theme of ‘Sustainable
Development’ in recent years has found practical expression in the form of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
in the rst decade of this century. More recently, the global leaders set target under the Sustainable Development
Goal (SDG) to protect and restore water-based ecosystems by 2020.6
4 The Ramsar Convention and its mission. <>
5 Sullivan, C.A. and Fisher, D.E. (2011). Managing wetlands: integrating natural and human processes according to law. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56 (8):1640-1655, DOI:
6 Sustainable Development Goals:
Tanguar Haor is an outstanding example of migratory birds. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
4Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Wetland Governance and Co-management in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a land of fertile alluvial plains, water and wetlands that drains into a vast and complex network of
river basins. During the monsoon, almost half of the country turns into wetland consisting of rivers, streams, creeks,
oodplains, marshes, haors, beels and baors. These diverse and highly productive aquatic ecosystems support
millions of poor people in rural areas of the country.
Over the last two centuries, the management of wetlands has focused principally on revenue earning. Prior to the
British rule in Indian sub-continent, the shermen of Bangladesh enjoyed customary rights to sh in rivers, haors,
baors and beels. The local communities had access to sh, swamp forests, reeds, wildlife, and other aquatic
resources to support their livelihoods.
The post-colonial management regime has been basically structured by scientic and technology-based, top-down,
centralized, production and efciency-oriented approaches. In the formal management system, the poor local
communities have been regarded as a threat to natural resources and accused of being polluters and/or degraders
of commons. Access to resources and the customary rights of the resource users have thus been gradually eroded
by the policy changes. The top-down, command-and-control, and centralized management system, which is
based only on the economic return of natural resources, ignores the signicance of other dimensions, such as
social, ecological and cultural aspects of resource management, and has no or only a limited role for local resource
users in resource management.7
Bearing the legacy of the British colonial period, the formal management system of natural resources in Bangladesh is
based on the Economic Efciency Focused (EEF) approaches for the immediate exploitation of resources for economic
purpose. The EEF approach is ideally based on the objective of providing well-being, such as, education, health, security,
etc., to the society. But the intensity for maximization of revenue collection from the natural resources enhances the
rate of exploitation while deviating the well-being of society. However, from the British period up till now, there has been
very limited indication of improved well-being of the population in the haor region of the country, although the underlying
intention of the EEF approach was to do so. Rather in practice, the science and technology-based, EEF policy regime
has created conditions that facilitate exploitation, conicts and chaos in the wetlands resource management.
7 Khan, S.M.M.H. (2011). Participatory Wetland Resource Governance in Bangladesh: An Analysis of Community-Based Experiments in Hakaluki Haor. Thesis paper. University
of Manitoba, Canada. pp. 1-3.
Fishermen with local fishing gear in Tanguar Haor. © Mohsin Kabir Miron
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Such purposive exploitation of wetland resources became a serious governance issue in the resource management
system of Bangladesh, as local communities were being marginalized from access to and control over resources to
ensure their well-being. Therefore, sustainable development based on the maintenance of the functional diversity
provided by wetland ecosystems requires careful management and evaluation of the different functions in terms
of the welfare benets they provide. In view of their complex, dynamic and co-evolving multi-functionality, a
management approach was needed that addresses the pressures exerted on wetland ecosystems in Bangladesh.
Appropriate policies and management tools could be used to ensure that natural services were used efciently and
to compensate for the externalities.
Table 1.1: Laws, policies and legislations on sustainable haor resource management in Bangladesh.
Year Sectoral Laws, Policies and
Specication of the Laws
1977 The Haor Development Board
It requires the Board to prepare projects and schemes to
develop the haors and other depressed low-lying areas.
1982 Protection and Conservation of Fish
(Amendment) Ordinance.
Prohibits unsustainable shing techniques, and calls for
conservation of sh resources.
1985 Land Management Manual. Guidelines for leaseholders, for sustainable exploitation of
sheries resources.
1992 National Conservation Strategy (NCS). Recommendations for achieving sustainable development in all
NCSIP -1 is implementation mechanism.
1995 National Environmental Management
Action Plan (NEMAP).
Halt degradation: promote sustainable use, conservation of
1999 Notication of Ecologically Critical
Areas (ECA).
Enactment of the ECA clause in the Environmental Conservation
Act (1995) and Rules (1997).
2000 Tanguar Haor Management Plan
Emphasis on implementation of wise use principle prescribed in
Ramsar guidelines and community based haor management.
2015 Tanguar Haor Management Plan
Framework and Guidelines.
Provides a broad-based overview of the resource management
and planning context of Tanguar Haor and also serves as a
guiding point of reference for further context-specic, locally
grounded planning.
Sources: Huq (1993); Giesen and Rashid (1997); Kabir and Amin (2007); IUCN Bangladesh (2015)
Co-management or collaborative management in Bangladesh has emerged as an issue in development sector
in the 1980s. However, co-management in wetlands started from the mid-1990s. It has evolved mainly from the
experience of sheries management in common property resources through different programmes and projects
initiated by the government, NGOs and community. Some of the signicant projects are the Forth Fisheries project
(from 2000 to 2006), the Community Based Fisheries Management (CBFM-1) during 1994-1999 and CBFM-2
during 2001-2007, the Management of Aquatic Resources through Community Husbandry (MACH) during 1998-
2007, the Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP) during 1998-2005, the Empowerment of
Coastal Fishing Communities (ECFC) during 2000-2006, the Integrated Protected Area Co-management during
2009-2012, the Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity Management Project (CWBMP) during 2003-2011, and the
Community-Based Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptation in Ecologically Critical Areas (CBA-ECA) during 2010-
2015 (Table 1.2).
In all cases, NGOs, communities and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) attempted to try out different mechanisms
to develop co-management to utilize government properties, for example, natural resources through introducing
6Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
some rules, regulations, and norms. These projects got immense popularity that encouraged community people
to integrate also private oodplains into the project area. Different agencies of the Government of Bangladesh, like
Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, and Bangladesh Forest Department have played a key role
on behalf of the GoB in these projects. Although, nature conservation, biodiversity, and sustainability of nature are
considered as the major focuses, establishing access rights of the shers and poor has also been prioritized in
these projects.8
Table 1.2: Signicant projects on sustainable wetland management in Bangladesh.
Project Name Duration Responsible Agency Implementation Area
Management of Aquatic Resources
through Community Husbandry (MACH)
1998-2007 DoF-USAID Hail Haor, Turag-Bangshi oodplain,
Kangsha-Malijhee basin
Community Based Haor and
Floodplain Resource Management
(SEMP Programme)
1998-2005 MoEF-IUCN-UNDP Pagnar and Sanuar-Dakuar haors,
Hakaluki Haor, and Jamuna-Padma,
Madhumati, and Brahmaputra
Community Based Fisheries
Management (CBFM-I & II)
1994-1999 DOF-Ford Foundation 116 water bodies, including Hakaluki
Haor in 22 districts
Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity
Management Project (CWBMP)
2001-2007 DOF-DFID-World Fish
Cox’s Bazar, Hakaluki Haor, Sonadia
Island, St. Martin’s Island
Wetland Biodiversity Rehabilitation 2003-2013 DoE 3 districts (Pabna, Natore, Sirajganj)
Community-Based Adaptation in the
Ecologically Critical Areas through
Biodiversity Conservation and
2009-2015 BWDB/GIZ Hakaluki Haor, Cox’s Bazaar-Teknaf
Peninsula, Sonadia Island
Social Protection (CBA-ECA) 2010-2015 DoE-UNDP-EKN-IUCN Hakaluki Haor
Community Based Sustainable
Management of Tanguar Haor
2006-2016 MoEF-IUCN-SDC Provides a broad-based overview of the
resource management and planning
context of Tanguar Haor and also serves
as a guiding point of reference for
further context-specic, locally grounded
8 Karim, A.F.M. (2007). Co-management Model for Tanguar Haor. Final Draft. Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project - Phase I (Preparatory).
IUCN Bangladesh Country Ofce, Dhaka. p.8.
Large number of domestic duck enter Tanguar Haor, which poses a threat to the ecosystem. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Co-management of Tanguar Haor − A Model of Collaborative Wetland
Tanguar Haor is a unique wetland eco-system covering 12,655 hectares of area located at the north-eastern
Sunamganj district of Bangladesh close to the Indian border in Meghalaya hill region. This complex ecosystem,
known for its numerous species of sh and as a staging area of as high as half a million migratory birds, supports
lives of about 70,000 inhabitants in 88 villages around its periphery.
The environmental importance of Tanguar Haor was rst promoted by International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), Bangladesh Country Ofce in the 1990s. The Government took keen interest in taking initiative for
protecting Tangaur Haor. The rst-ever conservation project undertaken by the Government in Tangaur Haor was the
National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project (NCSIP) in the early 1990s, where IUCN Bangladesh worked
as the technical partner. Later on, IUCN Bangladesh kept on policy advocacy for conservation of Tangaur Haor.
Considering the national signicance of Tanguar Haor and threats of depletion of its natural resources, the haor was
declared as one of the Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs) of Bangladesh in 1999. Subsequently, on 10 July 2000, it
became the second Ramsar site of Bangladesh due to its global importance, especially for the migratory birds.
A historic milestone was achieved in the management and conservation of Tanguar Haor and its rich biodiversity
after the traditional leasing of Tanguar Haor was stopped and its management was transferred to the Ministry of
Environment and Forests (MoEF) from the Ministry of Land in 2001. Under the National Conservation Strategy
Implementation Project -1 (NCSIP-1), the MoEF initiated a pilot project in Tanguar Haor. A management plan was
developed with technical assistance from IUCN Bangladesh in 2000, introducing the concept of ‘wise-use’ of
wetland resources based on the wise-use principles of the Ramsar Convention.
Against this backdrop, a project entitled ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor’ (CBSMTH) was
formulated. It is being implemented by IUCN Bangladesh, on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),
with nancial assistance of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The project has already gone
through a preparatory phase (2006-2009), a development phase (2009-2012), and consolidation phase (2012-2016).
Thousands of migratory waterfowl characterise Tanguar Haor in winter. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
8Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The preparatory phase (December 2006 to April 2009) was geared towards conrming the interest of the government
and the communities to collaborate in managing the biodiversity of Tanguar Haor, while ensuring well-being of
communities. During this phase, a co-management system was developed in order to fetch benets for the poor.
Based on the experiences of the preparatory
phase, the development phase (May 2009
to June 2012) included 88 villages within a
single management unit. This phase focused
on capacity building of communities for
promoting alternative livelihoods amongst
the extreme/ultra poor, raising awareness
for conservation, practicing conservation
and protection for conservation of resources
involving community and the government,
management of social capital for enhancing
livelihoods, and commercial sh harvesting.
After successful implementation of the
development phase; the consolidation
phase of the project was implemented from
July 2012 to August 2016.
The SDC-funded CBSMTH project is the
rst-ever intervention of the Government of
Bangladesh towards wetland management
through establishing a co-management
Paddy fields are a common feature in Tanguar Haor in winter. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Community-led afforestation protection are helping to green Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
model that allows the sustainable use of natural resources. A paradigm shift in collaborative management with
community leadership is being strengthened in Tanguar Haor through this agship project of IUCN Bangladesh.
During the project period, the three-phase cycle has had a signicant role in setting a co-management governance
arrangement in Tanguar Haor. A three-tire co-management organisation has already been established covering
76 (out of 88) villages and 7,089 members (28% women-headed HH) in the project area.9 The co-management
system is in practice now and also has been conceptualized by the key actors particularly, the Government of
Bangladesh and the community people of Tanguar Haor.
One of the notable progresses under the CBSMTH project has been made in the event of ensuring right of poor
shers’ shing access in Tanguar Haor. Most importantly, the introduction of permit-based shing modality has
successfully alternated the tendering process, which previously beneted the inuential groups at large.
During the project intervention, ecological protection and habitat restoration process of Tanguar Haor also
a serious momentum. The ecosystem of Tanguar Haor has been restored and biodiversity has been improved
through community participation in the resource management and protection. The improvement of bio-physical
conditions has been mainly caused by a number of project interventions, i.e. afforestation, homestead seedlings/
saplings distribution, habitat restoration, sanctuary establishment, ngerlings releasing, regular joint patrolling of law
enforcing agencies and community guards, and awareness meetings on nature conservation.
Besides, initiative for alternative livelihoods under the CBSMTH project has greatly helped to enhance income
Tanguar Haor people as well as encouraged them to involve in sustainable natural resource management. By the
Social Capital Management (SCM), the poor community of Tanguar Haor have own savings, get access to nancial
support from their accumulated fund and also enjoy benet as accrued from sh harvesting programmes.
The purposes, results and achievements of the CBSMTH project are summed up in Table 1.3.
9 CBSMTHP (Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project). (2016). Bi-annual Operational Report (September 2015-February 2016). Submitted to the
SDC by IUCN Bangladesh, Dhaka. p. 42.
Rows of Hizal-Koroch tree in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
10 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Table 1.3: Achievements of the ‘Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor’ (CBSMTH) project at a glance.
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Preparatory Phase
(December 2006 - April
Objective-1: Selected communities of Tanguar Haor (TH) have capacity and organisation to participate in pilot co-management
Output 1.1: Selected Communities are mobilised
towards participating in pilot co-management of
TH resources
• Communitymobilisationwascompleted,andseveralawarenesscampaigns
were carried out.
Output 1.2: Selected communities trained for
different livelihood options and IGAs initiated
• ‘ParticipatoryResourceManagementPlanning’(PRMP)wascompletedin
30 villages using a manual developed by PSMU to guide the project staff to
conduct PRPM at village level. PRMP methodology was composed of two
components namely Community Plan (CP) and Household Business Plan
• Asavingsschemewasestablishedandanewly-establishedcommunity
conducted by Inter-Cooperation.
Objective-2: Institutional system is negotiated and piloted to support towards development of a fully operational co-management
system for Tanguar Haor
Output 2.1: Modalities for accessing and
harvesting of natural resources developed and
• Co-ManagementModel:Aco-managementmodelwasdevelopedfor
accessing Tanguar Haor natural resources.
• AResourceHarvestandBenetSharingmechanismweredevelopedinclose
consultation with the stakeholders.
Output 2.2: National and regional platforms
established to support Co-management of TH
• TheMinistryofEnvironmentandForests(MoEF)formalisedtheProjectSteering
Committee (PSC) at the national level.
• RegionallevelStructures:TheTanguarHaorManagementCommittee(THMC)
at the Sunamganj level was in operation since 2007.
Output 2.3: Basic understanding of and
consensus on the principles of Co-management
of TH developed by primary and secondary
stakeholders at regional and national level
• TheProjectcontinuedtoundertakeawarenessprogrammesatalllevelsto
develop a common understanding and build consensus on basic principles of
Objective-3: Knowledge on Tanguar Haor is organised to provide necessary input for the development phase
Output 3.1: Knowledge management system
• TheProjectdevelopedadatabase(onSelf-HelpCredit&HHBP),publication
Output 3.2: Knowledge on resource system of
TH improved
• TheProject,duringitsInceptionPhasegeneratedaseriesofreports(Resource
enhance knowledge on Tanguar Haor.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Output 3.3: Comprehensive long-term plan
(development phase) based on lessons learnt
during the preparatory phase produced
• AproposalforPhaseIIwasdevelopedandgranted.
Objective-4: Cost recovery mechanism developed
Output 4.1: Consensus developed on cost
recovery system
• MoEFendorsedthe“resourcesharingmodality”(Harvesters=40%ofthe
Development Phase (May
2009-June 2012)
Output 1.1: Communities in all villages are
participating in co-management of TH resources
• Organisationalactivitiesexpandedinto76villagesunder73VillageCo-
• Membershipreachedatotalof6,040whenuptoOctober2011thetotal
• 55%ofthehouseholds(HHs)werecoveredsofarundertheorganisational
• Accumulationofsocialcapital(Fee+Subscription+Savings+ServiceCharge)
Output 1.2: Selected communities are involved
with different livelihood options and IGAs
• TotalSCMaccumulationwasBDT10,741,607,byJune2012.
• TotalamountofnancialassistanceprovidedtothemembersreachedBDT
• CCCleadersselected12newspecialIGAsinadditiontoexisting27small
business sub-domains.
• 67%(4,055)ultra-poor/vulnerablemembersreceivednancialassistance.
Haor following the wise use principle of Ramsar
Output 2.1: An interim governance mechanism
for co-management of TH agreed and formed
• Locallevelcoordinationcommitteeincludingallrelevantstakeholderschairedby
the learned magistrates on duty in TH was formed by the THMC to coordinate
all project activities more effectively with a focus on protection of TH resources
at weekly and even at day to day basis.
• Districtadministrationallocatedgovernmentkhaslandsat4unionsofTHto
• THMCendorsedaforestresourceharvestmodalitywithabenetsharing
government revenue.
12 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Output 2.2: Tanguar Haor ecosystem integrity
• CommunityleaderswereengagedintheoverallmanagementofCommercial
• Atraditionalgroupofshermenwentforthersttimeforcommercial‘Katha’
• Fishhabitatrestorationworkwasdonein14beels/shpassincluding5
sanctuaries by piling of bamboos and Hijal branch (katha) this year.
• Atotalof15,000piecesofKatol,15,000piecesofMrigel,and50,000piecesof
Tanguar Haor.
• StudiesonthehydrologicalstatushavebeendonebyBureauofResearch
Testing and Consultancy (BRTC)-Bangladesh University of Engineering and
Technology (BUET).
Output 2.3: Community based participatory
monitoring and evaluation system developed
• Aprotocolforcommunity-basedmonitoringandevaluationwasdevelopedand
shared with the community.
• Finalassessmentreportonmarketextensionandvaluechainanalysiswas
• HSIwascompletedreportoncapacityassessmentonconductingPRMPand
HHBP by the community themselves.
• THbiodiversitystudywascarriedoutbytheexpertsindifferentgroups.
sustainability of the management system for Tanguar Haor
Output 3.1: Knowledge Management System is
• SCMdatabasewasfurtherupgradedbyamalgamatingallsegmented
databases into a common platform.
• Modalityof‘ModelVillage’wasdraftedandtestedaccordinglyintwovillages.
• Allunionofceswereequippedwithcomputers,solarelectricityandinternet
• OfcialaccountingsystemwasestablishedforCCCbygivingtrainingon
account management and facilitating required logistics.
• Pocketbooksforleaderswerepublishedanddisseminatedamongallelected
Output 3.2: National and regional platforms
established to support Co-management of TH
• Avideodocumentaryontheprojectactivitieswasdevelopedanddisseminated
widely on the YouTube.
• CommunicationwithRamsarConventionSecretariatwasestablished.
• TanguarHaorInformationcentreinSunamganjwasstrengthenedbycollection
of displayable items and required accessories and made operational as well.
• TheNationalRamsarWetlandNetworkwasdevelopedinparticipationof
process of formation of the network.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Consolidation Phase (July
2012-June 2015)
Outcome-1: The co-management system in TH is consolidated and effective
Output 1.1: Institutional co-management
structures are strengthened
• 49.41%ofhouseholds(4,941HHs,including126women-headedoutof
• CCC(asanapexbodyofcommunityorganisation)wasregisteredas“Tanguar
• Total6,066VCCleaders,including2,080(34.28%)womenleaders,were
trained for leadership development in organisation and co-management
• 29communityguardshavebeenassignedtoprotectTHresources.Community
guards have been protecting TH resources through effective patrolling in the
Output 1.2: A monitoring system for
environmental and economic parameters is
established and applied
• Total24communitymembersweretrainedonM&Esystemformonitoringof
the beel ecosystem.
• Atrainingtodevelopskillofselected19participantsonshcatchmonitoring
and data collection was facilitated.
• Hydrologicalgaugeswereestablishedandmonitoredtheinowandoutowof
• 2assessmentreportsonsustainableyieldlevelforsh,andreedsandforest
were prepared by the assigned consultants.
Output 1.3: The TH Management Committee
Management Plan is endorsed
• ANationalScienticBody(NSB)comprising8memberswasformedbya
• FourcivilsocietyplatformswereformedinTHareas.
• The‘TanguarHaorManagementPlanFramework’wasdevelopedand
endorsed by the Government.
Output 1.4: Ecological protection and restoration
is strengthened
• 5shsanctuarieswereredesignedandextendedtothenearestbankofthe
relevant water bodies (beels) and 2 bird sanctuaries were declared.
• 7,618bamboo/kathawerepilledupin5beels/shsanctuaries.
• 4.6hectareslandof8kandas(ridges)wererestoredand28,759saplingsof
swamp tree species were planted.
• 29communityguardsalongwith24ANSARsunderguidanceoftheExecutive
Magistrates were on site for 365 days a year.
14 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Outcome-2: The communities of the TH improved livelihoods and increased incomes
Output 2.1: The communities have improved
knowledge and skills to develop and diversify
their livelihoods.
• 4,999communitymembers,including44.46%(2,223)femalemembers,were
trained on various livelihood categories.
• Trained1,273(100%)membersofwomen-headedandunder-privileged
• 700(100%)beneciarieshadLivelihoodImprovementPlan(LIP).
Output 2.2: The communities have increased
• Selected100HHBPholders(100%)havebeenshiftedtoLIP.
• Valuechainanalysisanditsreporton‘Fish’and‘Vegetables’were
• Atrainingmanualon‘eco-tourism’developedandatotalof82localeco-tour
Output 2.3: The savings and loan scheme are
transferred to a competent micronance agent.
• PalliKarmoShahayakFoundation(PKSF)wasengagedtodevelopamodality
• AnyregisteredMFIdidnotexpressinteresttotakeoverSCMoperationinthis
1 year extension phase
(September 2015-August
Outcome-1: Tanguar Haor co-management committees independently implement their mandates effectively, accountably, transparently
and in an inclusive manner.
Output 1.1: The co-management committees
are capable to take the co-management
responsibilities and functions independently.
• 1,955meetingsofTanguarHaorCo-managementCommitteewereheld.
• AconsultativeworkshopwasheldonTanguarHaorboundarydemarcation.
Output 1.2: The co-management instruments
supported sustainability.
• ATanguarHaorboundarydemarcationworkshopwasarrangedbydistrict
• Resourcemobilizationwasinplaceforboundarydemarcation.
Outcome-2: Poor communities make use of natural resources of Tanguar Haor and get benets from their own nancial institutions.
Output 2.1: Core-zone and buffer-zone sheries
and other Tanguar Haor resources are protected
and poor communities harvest the resources
• 25communityguardswereengagedasperthepolicyguideline.
• Theyparticipatedin50jointactionswiththegovernmentlawenforcement
• 42beelsinbufferzoneand9beelsincorezonecameunderprotection.
Output 2.2: Community’s support to co-
management is improved and incentivized
• 6,093outof6,587(95%)decisionsweretakeninCCC,UCCandVCClevels
• AparticipatoryM&EProtocolforTanguarHaorecosystemwasdeveloped.
Output 2.3: Social Capital Management (SCM) is
effectively managed by an appropriate institution
supporting Tanguar Haor co-management
• 100%member-wiseSocialCapitalManagement(SCM)datawereupdatedtill
• LoancollectionBDT26,96,588(29%recovery)outofBDT92,66,095,asof29
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Phase Expected Outputs Achievements
Outcome-3: Tanguar Haor co-management model comprehensively understood and widely shared
Output 3.1: Co-management experience at
Tanguar Haor reaches wider audience through
media engagements
• 2newsarticles1onbufferzoneshharvestingprogrammeand1ontheWorld
Wetlands Day celebration were published in the local daily newspapers.
Output 3.2: Impacts and lessons from
implementing co-management system in Tanguar
studied and shared
• Thebookwaspublishedbytheprojecttenurewiththehelpofastudyteam
made up of internal and external experts.
Sources: Terminal Reports of Phases I & II, Bi-annual Operational Report (September 2015-February 2016) of Phase-III; Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project,
IUCN Bangladesh.
© IUCN/ Kazi Zenifar Azmiri
16 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Tanguar Haor. © IUCN Bangladesh
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 2
Community Awareness, Aspiration,
and Women Engagement
18 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
People living within and around the Tanguar Haor are the eyes of Community-Based Sustainable Management of
Tanguar Haor project. Biodiversity conservation through reduction of dependency of poor and ultra poor people
over haorresourcesandbuildingawarenesson conservationwerethephilosophy ofthisproject.Forachieving
Engagement of community for successful management of natural resources needs a number of actions. The extent
resources. The socio-economic condition of people also an important aspect that need to be known for taking
proper steps. Resource users need to be aware about importance of natural resources and status of degradation.
The consequences of declination over the lives and livelihoods of people in future and associated reasons for
declination need to be transmitted for having better understanding with respect to conservation. People have to be
organised to take initiatives for better management of resources.
People’s organisations
A total of 74 VCCs, 4 UCCs, and a CCC were formed in two upazilas (sub-districts) for wise management of
formedatthe centrallevelinvolvingcommunity,local government, localadministration,and elitestoguide root
funds were being used for providing loan to the members for getting involved in income generating activities for
3. Inclusion of women within committees was strongly considered by the project.
Community leaders are participating in a Union Co-management Committee (UCC) meeting. ©IUCN/Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Women Engagement and Awareness in Tanguar Haor
Community participation in NRM has proliferated during the recent past and is increasingly recognised as a
participation is increasingly been formalised through legal and policy frameworks in the name of community-based
A gender baseline study was carried out under the purview of the CBSMTH with a view to assess the status of
thewomento identifytheirproblemsandneeds worknature,rightsandcontrol overresources,participationin
decision-making process were among the key issues reveled through the baseline.10 The study raised some
observations that believed to aid women engagement in the process of sustainable management of Tanguar Haor.
• Needsofbothmaleandfemalearevitalinordertoensureparticipationthatisfreefromdiscrimination.
• Poverty,illiteracyandabsenceofincomesourcearethedrivingforceofdiscrimination.
• Womenengagementin theinstitutionalprocess needtobe enhancedalongwith the provisionof
• And nally, capacity building of women deemed necessary for their effective participation in the
activities and provided a guideline on capacity needed. The project strongly
considered inclusion of women in all aspects of project initiative having
women-headed families in committees. In addition, 2,080 women got
10 IUCN Bangladesh. (2010). A Primer on the Gender Baseline Situation in Tanguar Haor. IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Bangladesh Country Ofce,
Dhaka. 63 pp.
Women are participating in a Village Co-management Committee (VCC) meeting.
© IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
20 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The study team conducted intensive survey, interviews, and group discussion apart from gathering views
from other stakeholders in regards to women engagement and their awareness. The study revealed that the
project stongly considered women in inclusion
of income generating activities that ultimately
given the scope to women to contribute in
household income. The women with income
found to be more powerful in decision making.
Women performed relatively better in terms of
institutional activities (i.e. in VCCs, UCCs, and
loan in productive purpose. At the same time the
rate of loan repayment in due time was higher
compared to male members as observed during
the eld study. The critical role of women, as
resource managers, as community activists, as
environmentaladvocates,must be recognized whenstrategiesforthe protection oftheenvironmentare being
Women were found to be active in participating in the meetings at different organisational levels. During the
3rdphase ofthe CBSMTHproject,participationof womenintakingdecisionattheCCC meetingsfound tobe
encouraging.Overall30% womenparicipatedin taking589 decisionsinboth theexecutivebody andgenedral
body meetings of the CCC.
awareness of women with regard to conservation of haor resouces still needed some improvement.
Box 2.1: Women engagement and perception on sustainability of the initiative
handicraftsgroup, DebRani (apseudonym)inBattavillageofSouthBangshikundaUnion. Deb
Ranistartedherstory with asmileas she was askedabouther family.She had vemembers
inherfamily: herhusband,two daughtersanda son. Herlifeand livingentirelyrevolvedround
Tanguar Haor. She informed that her husband was a seasonal farmer. He did whatever job he
productsthatareoflocaldemand− shingtraps, basketsfor carryingsoil,andricecontainers.
She often produced these locally demanded goods by taking loan from community SCM savings.
She repaid her loan regularly. She appreciated the SCM initiative that helped her to contribute to
householdincome.However,scarcityofrawmaterialsfoundtobealimitation ofthisprofession
despite of having potential market. She mentioned that the availability of raw material could be
solved by planting murta within the locality with capacity building of local people on cultivation of
as more nursing of members were still required for running these organisations by the community
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Community Perception and Conservation Awareness
The basic principle of community participation is the relationship between individual citizens and the state or
anequivalent authority.Positiveperceptiononcertainaspectsdevelopedwhencitizenshavecontrol,delegated
authority and true partnership with a respective authority in achieving any desired goals and objectives.
development organisations and project authority all
were included in different phases of this process.
Conservation for development was the key determinant
It was observed that the awareness in relation
to conservation of resources have reached at a
satisfactory level. Capacity of the VCC members
enhanced and they showed their commendable
capacity in running their organizations, stopping
shing during breeding season, maintaining basic
and rights. Women members were also found highly motivated and enthusiastic for running organisations and
conservation effort in the future.
Box 2.2: Benjamin’s story – where dreams meet hopes and aspiration
Mr. Benjamin(apseudonym),thepresidentoftheBangalvitaVCC,wasamaninhis50s.Hewas
expressing his satisfaction and accomplishment through his smiling face when the study team
met him.
Mr. Benjamin was a farmer having eight members in the family. He was with the project since 2007.
fattening and got a good return by selling those. Tanguar Haor was like a mother to Benjamin. It
helpedthemin livingtheirlives byprovidingfoodandlivelihoods throughouttheyear.Thus, he
believed that it was their utmost responsibility to aware local community about the importance of
conservation to ensure livelihood.
He was happy with the initiatives taken by the project for conservation of haor resources through
reducing dependency of the community on haor resources.However,hethoughtthecommittees
formed under the project needed more nursing as they have started learning how to run an
organization. He thought removal of external support at this stage would hamper the sustainability
of the initiative.
He also mentioned that the dependency of people over haorresourcesreducedfromthepast,
and every family with the conservation effort through scoping alternative income could be the only
solution for reducing dependency on haor resources.
22 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The study revealed that the communities of Tanguar Haor were well aware of conservation of natural resources.
They were running their organization following the guidelines provided by the CBSMTH project. They were also
to work in this arena.
of haor resources and livelihoods development of haor dwellers. The SCM activities needed to be well-managed
for reducing dependency of the local people. He believed that the project was an initiative that showed them the
way to walk forward and more nursing of community organizations under the umbrella of collaborative effort.
He also realized that both government and non-government organisations would help to ensure sustainability in
conservation of haor resources and that might take a few more years.
Improvementinarticulation of communities’demandtook place andleadersdemanded to engagethemselves
during planning of future conservation initiatives.
A school programme on biodiversity conservation in Tanguar Haor. ©IUCN/Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 3
Institutional and Legal Framework of
Tanguar Haor Co-management
A common scence of Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Kazi Zenifar Azmiri
24 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Institutional Development of Co-management in Tanguar Haor
Community-based resource management in Tanguar Haor emerged as a way to involve resource users and to utilize
thelocal institutionalarrangementsandknowledgein thiswetland’smanagement.Aco-managementstructure,
emanatingfrom aseries ofdiscussions anddeliberations,wasproposedtotheGovernmentofBangladesh.As
aresultof concertedefforts,culminating withaformalizedarrangement acceptabletothe local people,district
involveddifferentlevels of functions startingfromvillage to district levels,andengagedthe local community of
Tanguar Haor to participate as well as the community organizations to negotiate and interact with the government
The existing co-management governance under the CBSMTH project is apparently well thought-out with a
foundationat thegrassrootsresourceuserleveland linkingup withtheGOB’shighest,policy-makinglevel.The
VillageCo-management Committee(VCC)isatthebottomof thegovernancestructure.Asthenamesuggests,
88villagesaroundTanguarHaor,andbrought7,089 membersfrom4,943outof10,205householdsintotheco-
management process.11TheVCCsarethebasesforestablishingfourUnionCo-managementCommittees(UCCs).
11 CBSMTHP (Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project). (2016). Bi-annual Operational Report (September 2015-February 2016). Submitted to the
SDC by IUCN Bangladesh, Dhaka. p. 42.
Community leaders participating in the election of Central Co-management Committee (CCC) of Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The Central Co-management Committee (CCC) is the apex body at the ecosystem level that serves as the voice
fortheTanguarHaor community.The CCCwasregistered as‘TanguarHaor Somaj BhittikSoho-Bebostapona
Committee (THMC) that connected community organizations with the government. The THMC was formed with
supportinprojectimplementation,and madeappropriate recommendationsto theMinistryof Environmentand
Besides,a ProjectSteeringCommittee(PSC)headed
by the Secretary of the MoEF was also functioning
at the national level. The PSC was mandated for
monitoring and providing guidance on strategic project
Other than the GoB participation, organizations like
CNRS, GUS, BELA, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
and ERA were included in the list of the concerned
CBSMTH project.
The three-tier community organisation of Tanguar Haor since its formation had been functioning through a
12 Mazumder, A. (2014). Mid Term Review. Final Report. Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project - Phase III (Consolidation). IUCN Bangladesh
Country Ofce, Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp. 17-24.
Tanguar Haor Management Committee (THMC) meeting. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
GOB TH Community
Watchdog Bodies
THMC D ist. Adm
Upz Adm
UP Admin
MoEF &
& others
National Scientific Body for TH
National Network of Ramsar
Civil Society Forum at District level
26 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
TheUCC-ECmemberswere aggregated intotheCCCas CCC-GB members. AtVCCleveleach voter of GB
hadthe righttochoosefourofcebearers,andone professionalsecretaryfromhis/herownprofessionalgroup
theCCC-ECbody.ThatmeansthattheVCCwaspracticingvevotes,UCCa singleone,andCCCnine.Three
representatives from the CCC represent the community at the THMC.
the CCC presidential candidature. Three representatives from the CCC represented the community at the THMC.13
 Structureofthree-tiredemocraticleadershipatcommunitylevel.Source:Mazumder,A(2014)
Different types of meetings, such as weekly meetings, preparatory meetings, and monthly meetings of VCCs,
actions for resources protection and necessary day to day issues were discussed and decisions were taken in
the above-mentioned meetings. Women participated actively in decision-making process under a democratic
organisational platform.
13 Hussain, A. (2014). Assessment of Wetland Governance System in Tanguar Haor Ramsar Site. Winrock International, Dhaka. pp. 9-11.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Legal Arrangement of Co-management Organisations
Community-based resource management systems cannot be revitalised in isolation. The planning and implementation
The legal recognition of the CBOs as institutions by the appropriate authority is always a requisite for the continuation
of the activities and implementation of the code of conduct in wetland resource management. The legitimacy of the
recognition in fact helps the CBOs in various ways to claim their rights to the resources
and protects their interests
through negotiation with formal institutions.14
Experience has shown that the sustainability of
co-management organisations depends to a great
extent on how solid is their legal footing.
In the context of increasing pressure on natural
resourcesof TanguarHaor,theneed toformally
codify the existing co-management practices
through greater government involvement and
legislative support continues to gain importance.
However, the CBSMTH project through its
organisation proactively and independently, the CCC constitution was also placed for amendment as well as
raticationfrom the‘Joint StockCompanies’.ThoughtheVCCsandtheUCCsdid nothave anyseparatelegal
One of the remarkable progresses for bringing legal status to the Tanguar Haor community was made through
obtaining a government gazette notication on sh prot distribution. The modalities for government-approved
benet sharing mechanism among community
shermen, community organisations and
government allowed the community to harvest sh
sustainably in Tanguar Haor and established their
theGovernmentofBangladesh on13March2008,
theconcernedMinistry ofEnvironment andForests
(MoEF) determined the ratio of share of shery for
40%,Community36%, and theGovernment24%.
The above ratio of share was determined through
National Steering Committee and the Ministry .16
14 Khan, S.M.M.H. (2011). Participatory Wetland Resource Governance in Bangladesh: An Analysis of Community-Based Experiments in Hakaluki Haor. Thesis Paper. University
of Manitoba, Canada. pp. 141-142.
15 Mazumder, A. (2014). Mid Term Review. Final Report. Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project - Phase III (Consolidation). IUCN Bangladesh
Country Ofce, Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp. 17-24.
16 Hussain, A. (2014). Assessment of wetland governance system in Tanguar Haor Ramsar site. Winrock International, Dhaka. p. 17.
28 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
was a great achievement for the CBSMTH project. The modality brought all the remote beels of Tanguar Haor
community people towards understanding the value of
biodiversity conservation and thus made less pressure on
thecorezoneofTanguarHaor.Also,ahuge numberof
Apart from sh harvesting modalities, the CBSMTH
project signicantly contributed to produce a number
ofpolicydocuments,whichdirectly orindirectly provide
legal entitlements to the co-management organisations
in Tanguar Haor. The publication of ‘Tanguar Haor
commitment of the Government of Bangladesh towards sustainable management of this wetland. Based on this
Besides the planning documents, the draft of ‘Tanguar Haor Management Rules’ (THMR) which was already
accepted by the implementing ministry in principle, encompassed a re-designed co-management structure for
would certainly contribute to ensuring sustainability of the Tanguar Haor resources beyond project interventions.
Another great achievement of the CBSMTH project was boundary demarcation of Tanguar Haor, which was
completed with support and approval from the district administration of Sunamganj. Data in regard to boundary
delineation was handed over to the district administration. The project erected pillars at the boundary of Tanguar
Fisherfolks setting off to harvest fish in Tanguar Haor. ©IUCN Bangladesh
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Institutional Capacity Building of Co-management Organisations and
Community Leaders
Building capacities and abilities of community leadership are always a requisite to ensure long-term sustainability
of community-based institutions as well as the partnership with government agencies. The CBSMTH project
made a continued and focused effort to identify and build the capacity of community leaders, with a view to
havingemergenceofanew generation.Duringthe projectperiod, atotalnumberof6,066 communityleaders,
co-management system.17
Capacitating Tanguar Haor community through leadership training and mentoring now appeared to bear fruits in
terms of their ability to lead and mobilise community people within the community structure already established
there. The scope of issues discussed by the community leaders expanded to include resource management and
protection (law enforcement) issues, poverty and income generation schemes, and market access questions.
skills for organising meetings at different levels of the existing co-management structure in Tanguar Haor.
Committee body meetings and twenty-three (23) General Body meetings with support of project staff resulting
349 and 240 decisions, respectively. In most cases, the community has taken decisions related to SCM fund
operation,commercial andnon-commercial shharvesting inTanguar Haor,communityguards’deploymentfor
actionsagainstshandothers resourcepoachers,andawareness buildingwithin thecommunityagainstillegal
resource extraction. The participation of female members in both categories of meetings were much appreciated
17 CBSMTHP (Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project). (2015). Annual Operational Report. (July 2014-August 2015). Submitted to the SDC, by
IUCN Bangladesh, Dhaka. p. 13.
A leadership development training session participated by the community leaders of Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
30 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
except few different ones, like approval of nancial support to individual community members. At the bottom
tier, the VCC leaders organised weekly meetings and monthly meetings for SCM operation and others social
andresourcesconservation issues. Apartfrom meetings atthecommunity level, the leadersofTanguarHaor
contributed to sharing the resources and in the maintenance of ecosystem services through implementing 75
decisions taken in favour of them.18
Nevertheless,theemergenceofcommunity leadership able to articulatecommunityinterests,especially in the
domain of resource management and livelihood development remains a key condition for the sustainability of
community organisations in Tanguar Haor. Efforts also need to be ensured to continue building robust community
structures with the aim to work towards the generation levels of income that would allow the communities to
movebeyondsubsistencebenetsto envisagecommon investmentstoaddresssomeof themany substantial
investments needed in this wetland.
Community Patrolling and Resource Protection
The presence of community guards and other law enforcement agencies for ecological restoration and protection
of Tanguar Haor was another important achievement of the CBSMTH project. There was enhanced control of
community guards. Some local devotees of Tanguar Haor undertook the challenging task of community guarding
at their wills. The guards patrolled the haor resources on a roster-basis in groups (3-4 person per group) all year
round. The project facilitated to set up camp for community guards with providing necessary logistics. On the other
hand,communityorganisations inTanguar Haorsharedthe sheerresponsibilityofcommunityguards bygiving
salary (on a monthly basis) from their own community fund.
18 CBSMTHP (Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project). (2016). Bi-annual Operational Report (September 2015-February 2016). Submitted to the
SDC, by IUCN Bangladesh Country Ofce, Dhaka, Bangladesh. p. 43.
Community leaders and members attending Union Co-management Committee’s (UCC) quarterly meeting. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The CBSMTH project also demonstrated success
in establishing and subsequently strengthening the
community guards to work in coordination with the
police and the Ansar in protecting the Tanguar Haor
resource bases. The Ansars were deployed in the
haor for about one decade with the government’s
nancial support and under the supervision of the
district administration of Sunamganj.
Different initiatives and attitudes of the district
administration encouraged community guards to
was kind enough to support community guards by
deploying a magistrate who was staying in Tanguar
Haor on rotation all the year round. Such cooperation
has been largely contributing to minimize the rate of illegal harvesting of resources, including shes, birdsand
reeds. The effectiveness of community patrolling is discussed in Chapter 5.
Tanguar Haor Community Guards are starting their day by taking oath. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
A community guard is patrolling in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Executive Magistrate of Tanguar Haor instructing community guards to destroy illegal fishing nets and boats. © IUCN/ Wasim Newaz
32 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Box 3.1: Okhil Das – a conservator and community leader of Tanguar Haor
Okhil Das,apopularnameinTanguarHaor,wasworkingasadevotedleaderaswellasnature
protector of this wetland for about a decade. Once, he was depended on Tanguar Haor and
used to collect fuel wood for supporting his joint family of ten members. The initiation of CBSMTH
projectbroughta change inhismind.Being motivated byproject,he joined the TanguarHaor
community and avoided illegal harvesting of resources.
In 2007, Okhil played an active role as General
Secretary of Tanguar Haor Adhoc Committee, and
since the following year to 2010, he worked as the
Agriculture Secretary of Village Co-management
2010,respectively.Despitebeing a villagedoctorby
Tanguar Haor. Considering his sincerity and dedication
Supervisor of Community Guard for one year in 2013.
Duringtheperiod,he had a greatrolein community
guarding for the protection of haor resources
against all kinds of illegal harvesting, poaching, and
hunting.Inthemeantime,he seriously participated in anumberofpatrolling activities with law
co-managementcommittee ofhisvillage.Inthatyear,Okhilappearedinadualrole.Alongwith
Okhil still dreamt of a protected Tanguar Haor. He wished to see a very strong community guard
fully equipped with modern patrolling materials. He desired that a watch-tower would be built
in his haor area. Okhil also demanded electricity supply and improved communication. As a
management system would be followed in other wetlands of Bangladesh one day.
“Tanguar Haor is our mother – we are
responsible for its sustainable management
and we always choose the best practices for
its natural resource management” - Okhil Das
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 4
Community People and
© IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
34 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Financial Resource Management
Community Fund Formation
The community level organisations had access to a number of funds available to them through the CBSMTH project.
They had BDT 3.4 million-fund support for livelihood improvement programme. The SCM support was about BDT 68
recovery systems should have worked right unless somebody maligned the system to take unwanted advantages.
contributions from all VCC members at Tanguar Haor. Each VCC member contributes BDT 2 as VCC-membership
savingsvariedfromVCC toVCC,thefund size foreachVCCwas around BDT100,000to BDT 150,000. Thefund
wasusedtoproviderevolvingloanto theVCC members.Theloan disbursementprocess wasproposedatthe VCC
Usage of Fund
mostcases,loanswereapprovedforshort-term.Someofthe purposestheVCCmembersgotapprovedloans
Basedon thetypeofworksselectedforthefundsupport,thefundsizevaried signicantlyfromaslowasBDT
was there any plan for approving such loan in future.
A successful woman entrepreneur with her loyal husband. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Social Capital Mobilisation
Future of Social Capital Management (SCM)
There were well-planned accounts and ledger systems in managing the nancial matters with all four UCCs.
CBSMTH project staff used to help them in maintaining the accounts extensively. This help was open and rigorous
–it startedfrom llingup theloan applicationand endedat refundingtheloan.Thiscreateddependencyofthe
while they were doing this over the years with support from implementing NGOs. Illiteracy and limited trust on the
A community member showing her successful vegetable gardening as an alternative livelihood option. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
36 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Livelihood and Market Development
Background and objectives of livelihood programme
The people of haor are mostly either marginal farmers or poor to extreme poor labour wagers. A successful livelihood
support programme for a large human community like those living in and around Tanguar Haor is undoubtedly a big
challenge.The CBSMTHprojectprovidedtechnical,nancial,andrawmaterialsupportstothelocal community
nanciallybetterabletosupporttheirown subsistencelevel needs;(ii)tohelpthem combatthe unemployment
season (lean period); and (iii) to develop alternative income generation activities which might reduce their pressure
–It hasachievedmostofitsobjectives,butlimitedeffortwithregardto marketdevelopmentmaysuppressthe
sustainability of the initiative.
Supports provided
SCMamounted toBDT68millionwherethe sharefor femalewas aboutBDT 19million.However,theTanguar
Haor community owned a social capital management (SCM) of about BDT 22.5 million at the end of the CBSMTH
from the government to combat the shing-ban period of the year (roughly March-June). Total amount of rice
Income generation activities
TheLIPprogrammesupportedanumberofincomegenerationactivitiesin thecommunities.Someofthemajor
activities were: paddy cutivation, commercial cultivation of vegetables at homesteads and around, nursery
of ducks and chickens, gorachery, small mobile business (feri), boat-making, handicraft and tailoring, tea stall,
working on these had household level experiences. There was hardly any new AIGAs developed. Some training
was provided to them on AIGAs.
There was hardly any diversity in the options for making the livelihoods of the Tanguar Haor-dependent communities.
almostinevery VCC, femalesweremaking handicraftsinwhich they hadtraditionaland indigenous trainingor
experiences as those have local markets. Some efforts of trainings were provided from the CBSMTH project to
promote or gear up their productivity in those work. The most common work the females were found engaged in
masonry during the period of unemployment.
However, all the interviewees had confessed that their income increased from what it was before the project
intervention.However,thisincome wasnotadjusted with inationandmarket price. Nevertheless,asignicant
improvementwasnoticed intheirunderstanding ofincome,price, and markets.Theycould clearlydifferentiate
between money income and real income.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Income and empowerment
There is a direct relationship between money income and decision-making power. The same has been found
true for the women empowerment at Tanguar Haor. The study team conducted an exercise with 23 females from
differentVCCs tocorrelatetheir powerto takedecisionin thefamilywith theirabilityto contributetothe family
expenses.Thesewomenwere askediftheycould save money,buyessentialgoods, take loanorlend money
without prior permission from their husbands. They were also asked if they had any AIGAs to earn money for the
from NGOs. The summary of the exercise is presented in Table 4.1.
Family size* Income? Savings? Lending Borrowing? Buying? Decision
were more powerful in taking decisions in the family than the one with no income. Since the CBSMTH project had
Market development
Any production activity is based on three broadconsiderations: (i) the demand analysis of the products being
Women are making soft mat (Shital paati) by using ‘murta’ to sell in the market. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
38 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
planned to produce, (ii) The capacity of the organisation, both technical and nancial, to produce the planned
products,and(iii) thepotentialmarkets or consumersofthe products.Thedemand andneedassessment are
the most important step in the production process. This process determines what products are demanding in the
producers to produce the products. This is where the local entrepreneurs need extensive training and installation
supports to effectively and efciently produce their products. The third step – the market size identication is
of the products should be produced for a market clearance condition to prevail.
for many years. The entrepreneurs already knew the kind of products they needed to produce. They also knew
themarketdemandfortheirproducts.So,theyweredoingthesamework withsamelevelofdemandandwith
Constraints of market development
donothuntfor a bigurbanmarket since theyevencannotsatisfy the demandforthelocal markets. Sometimes,
producers did not feel interested in looking for big market. They were interested to sell their products in the local
markets by themselves. Another logic they erected was that – since most of the male members were unemployed
It was known from the CBSMTH project staff that there were a number of constraints in the way to structured
volumeof production.Theurbancentres,whichtheycontacted,wereinterestedtomarketthelocallyproduced
of production was not good a business proposition they could think of.
Ecotourism in Tanguar Haor
Conceptualizing ecotourism in Tanguar Haor
ofbothguides andguests.Therefore, thisisa formoftourism wheretheguides andtouristsare agreedupon
environmental conservation and social welfare. It offers market-based sustainable solutions to conserving and
enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of the touristic places. That being
for future development with quite a few limitations to be addressed.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Social and economic benets of ecotourism
Ecotourism was completely a new concept in the Tanguar Haor area. The CBSMTH project made it a reality in
the project areas that ecotourism not only saves the environment, but also contributes to household income,
enrichmentofculturalexchange, education anddevelopmentof the region.Theeducated young forcecanbe
put to the social welfare through ecotourism. The tourist guides were found making a very good income from the
tourism activities.
Table 4.2: The list of travelers and the experience of their travels to Tanguar Haor as noted from a Tourist
Guide’s notebook*.
Sl. Date of Arrival Days of
From Group
Tourist’s comment
1. 03.07.2015 02 Chittagong -- 2000 Need healthy toilets
2. 04.07.2015 02 BUET 12 2000 Foodsandboatareexcellent
3. 21.07.2015 02 -- 05 2000 Bestenjoyedboat,food,andthe
behaviour of the guide
4. 24.07.2015 02 Sylhet 06 2400 Feellesssecured
5. 14.08.2015 02 -- 12 2400 Not possible to enjoy without guide
6. 15.08.2015 02 -- 44 4000 --
7. -- 03 -- 06 3000 Will be back again
8 29.08.2015 02 -- 07 2400 Excellentscenery,food,and
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
40. 01.06.2016 02 -- 06 2400 Tourism should be institutionalised
41. 13.07.2016 02 -- -- 2400 Foodandtheguideareexcellent
*The table is a part of a long list; **the price of the food supplied is not included.
A tourist exploring swamp forest by a country boat in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
40 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
According to Table 2, a single tourist guide had 41 teams of tourist in a calendar year where each day fee for the
guide was BDT 1,000-BDT 1,200. The length of stay for each of the team was 2-3 days. This indicates that the
tourist guide’s annual income as guide fees from this profession was around BDT 100,000. However, his income
from this profession is in fact many folds of what he earned as his guide fees. The other sources of income of a
tourist guide are: (i) income from the boat rental, which he used to take the tourists in the haor and (ii) food which he
prepared for the tourists. Alongside the monetary out-turn, the Tanguar Haor society is being introduced to many
people from almost all the districts of the country (sometimes, from abroad). On the other hand, the inux of tourist
was also shaping the cultural of the area as well.
However, the income from guiding a tourist in the haor is not the same over a year. The number of tourists varies
from season to season. The highest numbers of tourists come to visit Tanguar Haor in winter or dry season. The
main attractions for the tourist to come to the haor in winter are the migratory birds. According to the tourist
guides of Tanguar Haor – “more birds bring more tourists”. Therefore, tourism development in Tanguar Haor is
dependent on the conservation of migratory birds in the region. This is an ideal example how ecotourism helps keep
environment safe. However, the number of tourists declines signicantly in the summer. This number increases
again in the monsoon as shown in the line graph below.
Variation in the number of tourists across the seasons of a given year.
Environmental benets of ecotourism
On being asked what ecotourism is, two tourist guides who study team visited in Golabari Uttor Sripur and Bangalvita
responded - this is about enjoying the beauty of the nature while conserving the environment. According to them,
earlier the visitors used to come here and did not know about the culture, heritage, and environmental signicance
of Tanguar Haor and the areas around it. More often, they were found to destroy the haor biodiversity, such as
breaking small trees and hunting birds. Ecotourism solved this problem largely. In addition to providing necessary
information about the history and culture of Tanguar Haor, the tourist guides emphasised on the signicance of the
healthy existence of the Tanguar Haor with all its biophysical components.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
42 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Tourists’ needs
Many tourists have felt the need of healthy sanitation facility in the area. Table 4.2 also gives information of the
length of stay in the haor area. In most cases, the tourists do not stay beyond 2 days. it’s probably the shortest
possible length of time for tourists to stay at an excellent and naturally decorated tourist spot. The area almost had
no hotel or motel for the tourist to stay in. If there was, the length of stay could have been longer. However, there
was a small cottage – Haor Bilash − in the Golabari, Uttor Sripur area built with private ownership. The cottage
was still under construction − it did not have healthy sanitation facility and clean drinking water supply. The demand
for lodging in the Tanguar Haor area for the tourists could be perceived from the fact that, the owner’s income
exceeded BDT 40,000 in the mid-2016 within a couple of months.
One more important thing for the tourists could be a store that can display and sell goods of interest of the tourists.
An observation tower was a much-needed attraction for the tourist to visit the tourism spots. There are a number
of observation towers in Tanguar Haor, which the locals described as broken, unplanned, and with construction
faults. Thus, were literally abandoned.
Tourist guide training – the issues
The identication of tourism development was an attractive and smart idea with the CBSMTH project. However,
the tourism development initiative of the project could have been a greater success, if some issues in relation to
guide selection for training were carefully considered.
Can ecotourism be an industry?
The Tanguar Haor is a 12,655-hectare area with immense natural resources. Its geographic location and biophysical
structure have made it attractive to visitors from home and abroad. Tourism is at its very early stage of development
in Tanguar Haor. The data obtained from the existing tourist records (from the tourist guides) in the haor area bid
fair for the Tanguar Haor to become an important tourist hot-spot. Tourists are in great thirst to enjoy the beauty
of Tanguar Haor – one of the largest freshwater wetlands of the country. Boundless water in the monsoon, crystal
clear water in the dry season, thousands of chirping migratory birds in the winter, tasty sh and foods along with
heartiest hospitality of the local people are some elements in favour of Tanguar Haor to be a tourism hot-spot.
A community leader initiated a guest house in the middle of Tanguar Haor on his own land. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
number of tourists is on the rise. The tourists are ready to enjoy the beauty of Tanguar Haor by paying the
guide tours. Thus, the area has ample scope to become an ecotourism hot-spot.
A tourism guide board is critical for the management of tourism activities in Tanguar Haor. The tourist guides
claimed that many tourists come here on their own. This is a loss to both the parties – the guides and the guests/
tourists. The tourists thus coming here are not well aware of the culture, heritage, and the tourist attractions of the
area. Therefore, they go back with a poor perception about Tanguar Haor. In addition, they are potential threat to
the threatened biodiversity of the haor. Since they do not have an eco-tour guide, they might not be motivated to
conserve environment while enjoying nature. A tourist guide board or organisation can connect the tourists with
potential tourist guides. This organisation would again be important from a revenue management perspective
of the government. Since Tanguar Haor bids fair for a potential tourist spot in the near future, the government
can earn a good sum of revenue from this sector. Now the tourist guides are freelance guides. If tourism can be
institutionalised in Tanguar Haor, the government can earn a lot of revenue in the form of ‘payment for ecosystem
services’ from the tourists.
Tanguar Haor Information Corner was placed in the Sunamganj Heritage Museum. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
44 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 5
Approaches, Strategies and Monitoring
46 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Human existence intrinsically depends on the nature and natural resources. Wetland plays pivotal role in sustaining
the equilibrium of the Earth’s environment and in providing services and benets to living organisms including
human. The earth is losing wetland each and every day as a consequence of growing human pressure on using
of its resources. The unsustainable development concept and activities of human has exacerbated diminishing
of wetland resources and its biodiversity. The unabated anthropogenic development makes this planet more
vulnerable habitat for human and other organisms gradually. Philanthropists and scholars are drawing attention to
the policy-makers to formulate coherent policies for economic growth and for sustainable development taking into
account conservation of nature and natural resources.
Biophysical Feature of Tanguar Haor
Tanguar Haor, a wetland of international importance is situated to the northwest part of Sylhet basin, which is
at the foothill of Garo and Khasia Hills of Meghalaya State of India. In a hydrogeomorphic setting, Tanguar Haor
is located under a heterogeneous mosaic of wetland system- the riparian wetland and the stream headwater.
Geology, soil characteristics, and hydrological system inuence the characteristics of this haor ecosystem. With the
range of 12,655 hectares area this semi-natural wetland is divided into four broad landforms: piedmont depression,
permanent wetlands (beels), oodplains and rivers with coordinated drainage system. The average elevation of this
wetland ranges from 2.5 m to 5.5 m and even a few perennial depressions (beels) are less than 1 m below the sea
The topography and slope of the landscape create perennial and seasonal depressions, streams and canals,
oodplains, and levees and ridges that are important habitat for biological assemblage. The blending of shallow
and deep depressions, quantity and quality of open water, ood plains, ridges, hanging and emergent vegetation,
swamp forest, interconnected channels/canals and rivers, and water ow make this ecosystem as the most
productive wetland in Bangladesh. Its unique hydrogeologic feature is that despite being surrounded by major
three river systems the water ows do not intrude this wetland directly rather natural less turbulent back water from
the Surma River oods this haor mostly. Tanguar Haor is recognised as an excellent and arguably the best
A part of biodiversity in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ A.B.M. Sarowar Alam
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
example of the haor wetland type of the oodplains of north eastern Bangladesh19 . Elsewhere in the region, such
oodplain wetlands are either absent, have been entirely converted (e.g. in adjacent lowland India), or consist of
entirely different assemblages of species (e.g. Burma/Myanmar) [Tanguar Haor Management Plan 2000].
Tanguar Haor differs substantially from other wetland because of its varying physical and biotic nature. This haor
provides the most productive habitat, such as swamp forests, oodplains, reed beds and perennial open water
body for biological species. Hundreds of perennial and seasonal ridges or levees (kanda), seasonal fallow land, deep
and shallow perennial and seasonal depressions and deep and shallow natural inlets and outlets with transparent
huge water volume are of unique features that maintains the ecological niche for numerous aquatic and terrestrial
species of wetland ecosystem. A total of 109 shallow and deep depressions is of about 4,344 hectares land, which
cover about 34.33% of the whole haor area. Almost all these beels of Tanguar Haor retain water throughout the
year. Water depth at Tanguar Haor varies from 6 10 m in the wet season, to 2 6 m in the dry season. Its 1,058
hectares vegetation area serves as reed beds and swamp forests ecosystems. About 3447.65 hectares fallow
land get seasonally inundated from April to October a year. This fertile fallow land turns into greenery with team up
grass, scrubs and other plants. Such heterogeneity of this wetland ecosystem offers essential habitats for many
hydrophytes, aquatic organisms, birds and wildlife.
The hydro-geomorphic location makes this haor a very distinctive in the entire haor ecosystem. The wetland is
surrounded by three sides with three river systems-Bisarpasha-Gashi, Jadukataa-Patlai, and Surma-Jadukata-
Boulai arounds on its west, south and east sides, respectively. A number of other wetlands, such as Matian
Haor, Kanamuya Haor, Shibbari Beel, and Thapner Beel are surrounded by its east, south and west sides. With
exceptionally this haor is mostly feed up by the back water from the Surma river through Jadukata, Boulai and
Patlai river systems. Its northern part is adjoining to the foot hills of the Garo and Khashi hills of Meghalaya state
of India. About 42 streams or creeks ows from these hills and fall into the haor. But their aggregate conuent
is very insignicant compared to the water come from the Surma. This typical geographic feature is reected by
its naturalness, species richness, structure, composition and function. With this exceptionality the wetland has
become a rich harbour of many nationally and globally important terrestrial and aquatic assemblages.
Conservation Value of Tanguar Haor
From the centuries, Tanguar Haor attracts the tourists, ornithologist, botanists, biologists, and human settlers
with its captivating scenic beauty, aesthetic and conservation value with economic opportunity. In 1835 William
Grifth rst reported its botanical importance and scenic beauty. Then it has been a research eld to geologist,
ornithologist, botanists and zoologists and ecologists. The signicant conservation value of Tanguar Haor was
reported from their studies and reports. According to the ndings of the past studies, it is the last vestige of some
nationally and internationally uncommon biological species.
In terms of sheer biological species abundance, it is one of the richest areas in Bangladesh. It offers the habitation
for at least 150 wetland plant species,141 freshwater sh species,11 amphibians, 34 reptiles including 6 turtles, 7
lizards and 21 snake species, 208 bird species, and 19 mammal species. This wetland provides the habitats for
various globally threatened wildlife species those are listed on IUCN Red Data lists and CITES Appendices. This
includes 1 amphibian species, 3 turtles, 2 lizards, 4 snakes, 10 birds, and 6 mammal species.
At least 92 waterfowl species have been found at Tanguar Haor (including many migratory species), that make this haor
by far the richest wetland in terms of water bird diversity20 . It is breeding area for some rare species, such as the Pallas’s
Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucorhyphus), Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea), and Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha).
19 Scott, D.A. (1989). A Directory of Asian Wetlands. IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland. 1182 pp.
20 Giesen, W. and Rashid, S.M.A. (1997). Management Plan for Tanguar Haor, Bangladesh. Final Draft. Restoring local community participation in wetland resource manage-
ment. National Conservation Strategy Implementation Project-1, Ministry of Environment and Forests and IUCN, Bangladesh. 218 pp.
48 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Rich sheries biodiversity is its salient resources that earn its name as distinctive Mother Fishery among other
freshwater bodies of Bangladesh. It provides signicant habitat for freshwater sh and prawn species as grazing,
spawning, breeding and nursery ground.
Tanguar Haor has signicant ecosystem and conservation value with economic importance. This rich sheries
base impressively contributes to maintaining aquatic biodiversity in the entire haor ecosystem and replenishing the
annual inland sh production of Bangladesh through its natural recruitment and dispersal processes. It signicantly
adds value to the national economy directly by supplying 14% annual catch to open-water sheries production in
Sunamganj district and 0.67% at national level.
It harbours some of the last vestiges of swamp forest in Bangladesh, and is one of the few remaining haor
ecosystems with a more-or-less natural hydrological regime. About 56,000 people of 10,205 households in 88
villages surrounding its periphery are directly or indirectly dependent (93%) on this natural resource base for their
daily livelihood options. On an average, 65.41% of the total inhabitants earns their daily means through shing or
related trades from this ecosystem.
Only for revenue generation, this regional wetland habitat was under leasing system from 1930 to 2001. It was
captured by local and regional elite groups. Local community had no access right to the natural resources of
Tanguar Haor. The leaseholders exploited the sheries resources massively and were disinclined to protect other
resources as well as averse to maintaining its ecosystem. The dependent community was then totally deprived
of accessing to sheries resources. Such deprivation practice pushed the community people to extract non-
sh resources indiscriminately. Consequently, its habitat destruction and biodiversity loss aggravated, ecosystem
degraded gradually and it lost the productivity as well. Concurrently environmental degradation, climate change or
climate variability as well as trans-boundary effects triggered its vulnerability and exacerbated its ecosystem integrity.
Tanguar Haor Information Corner was placed in the Sunamganj Heritage Museum. © IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Policies and Strategies for Conservation and Sustainable Management
of Tanguar Haor
Effective governance is the pre-requisite aspect to sustainable conservation and management of natural resources.
Hence, policy formulation to make effective the governance for Tanguar Haor wetland was the utmost priority to the
project management. The Community-Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor (CBSMTH) Project was
the rst-ever venture for establishing wetland co-management system in Tanguar Haor.
The role-model of ve tier co-management structure
for Tanguar Haor was piloted to create the synergy
among the stakeholders in biodiversity conservation
and natural resources management. The top two tiers −
the Project Steering Committee (PSC) and the Tanguar
Haor Management Committee (THMC) were the keys
to functioning co-management system for this wetland
management. The bottom three tiers were the driving
forces to mobilize community participation in resource
conservation and management and sustainable use of
the resources. The harvesting modality of sheries, reeds
and forests, benet sharing mechanism for sheries
resources, reeds and forests, community patrolling
guideline and community led monitoring and evaluation protocol were the key designed instruments that contributed
to maintain this natural resource base.
The most notable policy intervention of the project management was the formulation of ‘Tanguar Haor Rules’. The
legal binding to following the co-management system for this haor management will be ensured through gazette
notication. On the other hand, community participation in protection, conservation, utilisation and management of
the resources would be guaranteed by this rule. The implementation of these policies and guidelines certainly infuse
the sense of ownership among the community people on this resource base that would ensure the sustainable
conservation practices for this wetland. The project thrived towards establishing the functioning governance for
wetland through formulation and execution of these policies and guidelines.
Sensitised Stakeholders for Tanguar Haor Resource Management
Effective participation in decision-making process and implementation the decision through the respective
stakeholders is the imperative of functioning co-management system towards sustainable natural resources
governance. In line with this project meticulously set strategies to ensure the effective participation of all stakeholders
in Tanguar Haor management through comprising several committees. The project mobilised the poor and
disadvantage community people as the primary stakeholder of the project. While civil society members were involved
as social watch group. Law enforcement agencies comprised as critical supporting stakeholder of the project.
Role of Tanguar Haor Management Committee (THMC) in Resource
The THMC was the most effective decision-making committee at district level. The committee was formed with the
relevant ofcials of district and Upazila level government line agencies and local Union Parishad Chairman and the
representative from concerned non-government organizations. The members of these committees took decision
50 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
for conservation and management of the resources. It provided support to implement the decisions and to enforce
the law and order in the haor. As the members of the THMC, the chairmen of four Union Parishads provided support
to protection of the resources and conict resolution emerged due to resource harvesting. Along with community
awareness, Union Parshad (Council) chairmen resolved the criminal cases, if derived from illegal extraction of
resources. The committee was notied to Bangladesh gazette and it was envisaged that as a regulative authority
to Tanguar Haor it could maintain its function beyond the project period.
Community Awareness of and Responsiveness to Natural Resources
One of the major reasons behind the degradation of natural resources is over-exploitation of resources by the
increased population. It is necessary to improve the level of understanding of natural resource dependent population
for wise management of resources and conservation of biodiversity as well. Realising the potential of stakeholders’
role for resource management, the project has involved community as well as other stakeholders with resource
management and conservation initiatives.
A total of 7,000 members from about 5,000 households were organised under a registered society. The society
had three tiers − village co-management committee (VCC, 74), union co-management committee (UCC, 4), and
a central co-management committee (CCC). Their understanding on protection and conservation of this haor
resources and co-management system was quite good. They could explain conservation value of Tanguar Haor
resources with economic importance, their role and responsibilities in conservation and management (64%), and
objective of their organization (72%). Most of them could realize the importance of Ramsar site and they feel
proud of being the inhabitant of Tanguar Haor area. This type of community understanding and awareness, and
sensitization of the primary and secondary stakeholders certainly improvise conservation practices for Tanguar
Haor resources and its sustainable management.
Social Watch Group for Conservation Programme
Civil society can play a vital role to motivate both community and policy-makers for taking proper decision for
resource management. This is a wise option to utilise image of civil society for motivating other stakeholders,
specially the vested group. The project captured the unique strategy and involved civil society.
A total of four civil society groups were active and extended their support to community people in protection and
management of this haor resources. They have been kind hearted to protection of Hizal-Karoch forests, resolution
of internal conict among the shermen, and sustaining ban period of shing in the wetland.
Engagement of Law Enforcement Body for Protection of Natural Resources
A total of twenty-four Ansar (national para force) members were engaged to patrol Tanguar Haor area, to protect
illegal harvesting of resources, and to maintain the law and order situation in the designated area. The executive
magistrate with police was deputed to maintain the law and order situation and provide support to law enforcement
agencies and community guard in Tanguar Haor area.
It was reported in the consolidation phase (Bi-annual Operational Report 2015-2016, IUCN), a total of 500 joint
actions were taken against sh poaching in Tanguar Haor by Ansar, Police, project staff, and community guards
under the lead of the magistrate. It is estimated that these joint efforts captured and destroyed illegal equipment
(i.e. boats, shing nets, birds haunting nets, etc.) with approximate market value of USD 338,388.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Upazila level Monitoring Committee for Tanguar Haor Resources
Comprising with eleven members a monitoring team was formed at upazila (sub-district) level in order to provide
vigilance support and monitor sh and bird sanctuaries maintenance, swamp forests conservation and plantation
activities. The monitoring committee headed by Upazila Nirbahi Ofcer (UNO) paid visit to the haor and monitored the
maintenance activities taken by the Ansar and community guards. The committee provided necessary assistance
to the law enforcement bodies and community guards for protection of natural resources as and when required.
Community-driven Conservation Initiatives
Participatory Resource Management Planning (PRMP) was a signicant implementation approach of the project
for natural resources conservation and management. Community people identied conservation priorities and
designed action plan every year. Plantation of climate-resilient plant species, conservation of kanda (ridges) for
regeneration of reeds and other plants, conservation of vulnerable sh, bird and wildlife species, their habitat
improvement, following ban season of shing, and community patrolling for protection of resources were the top-
most community initiatives.
The VCCs and UCCs implemented the annual action plans, while the CCC provided the technical and nancial
support to implement their action plans. A good number of community members were involved in protection of
bird, wildlife and plant species from poaching and felling. These committees provided support to government
enforcement bodies to control illegal extraction of natural resources, to oblige ban season of shing in the haor,
to protect biodiversity and to facilitate breeding sh, bird and wildlife species in this haor area. They organised
court yard meetings to increase the understanding and awareness on biodiversity conservation and resource
The community members actively participated in natural resources monitoring in Tanguar Haor. The union level
monitoring committees visited the authorised sh harvesting practice, veried the harvesting compliance, collected
harvesting data, and made report accordingly. They also monitored the state of the reeds and forests patches in
the haor. At the time of their monitoring to shing ground or the reeds and forests patches they also protected
the illegal extraction of these resources and seized the illegal shing gears and other equipment. They protected
unlawful harvesting of sheries resources, illegal hunting of migratory water birds, and cutting or felling of reeds
and trees, for example.
Community Patrolling System for Protection of Natural Resources
Protection of natural resources in Tanguar Haor is a huge task. Community people sometimes are not able to
protect these from illegal harvesters’ groups. Insufcient law enforcement body also cannot control the whole haor
effectively. Considering this context, the CBSMTH project formulated a policy on community guarding system and
introduced that system in 2012 for protection of the natural resources along with administrative body.
This community guarding system was totally operated by the Union and Central Committees of the Society.
The community guards have been patrolling the haor for 24 hours a day individually. The community people
came forward to assist to community guard for tackling any serious incident if happened during patrolling. The
community guards provided support to the law enforcement bodies (Ansar, the para force) and the executive
magistrate as and when to control illegal extraction of the resources. Community guards captured 15,075 kg
52 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
shing net, 1,143 boats, and 9,940 traps during their patrolling. Action taken by the community guards built
trust among the community people on the community guarding performance in resource protection. The Tanguar
Haor Management Committee (THMC) also endorsed this system as the supportive community vigilance group in
resource conservation. The policy document on community guard operation is in place and the community created
a funding system to continue the community guarding system.
Such coordinated and collaborative approach and efforts impacted in the exemplary transformation to wetland
restoration, its habitat improvement, biodiversity conservation, sustaining ecological integrity, and governance of
Tanguar Haor’s resources.
Turtle breeding ground: An example of community-led
Turtles play an important role for keeping the ecosystem healthy. It helps in seed
dispersal, vegetation management, and control of insects and snail population.
One of the major roles of turtles is to keep water clean by scavenging dead
animals and preying weak and sick population. Turtles are also part of rich
Bangalee culture.
Tanguar Haor is a unique place for some nationally and globally endangered and
threatened turtle species. Human-induced unsustainable practices, like habitat
destruction, use of pesticides and hunting for food, are the main threats for turtles harbouring this
Softshell peacock is one of the endangered species of Bangladesh breed during August- September
in canal situated north-west part of Tanguar Haor near the villages of Rupnagar. Every year hunters
caught this species with special hooks. In August 2014, Ali Usman Badal, General Secretary,
Central Co-management Committee (CCC) came forward and motivated local people as well as
religious leaders for stopping hunting of this majestic animal. Along with the raising awareness of
local people for conservation of species, he managed to form a committee engaging motivated
community members for guarding to stop hunting. From then on, turtle hunting has stopped in
those areas during breeding season.
Swamp and Reed Plantation and Protection
Swamp and reeds are the unique features of haor ecosystem, which act as breeding ground for native shes during
the monsoon. Mammals take shelter during dry season. Reed lands are the unique place for both water birds and
migratory birds as they take shelter and breed there. Swamp also supports communities by providing protection
from wave action during monsoon. It also provides fuel wood to the community.
The project successfully mobilised community people in ecosystem restoration, habitat protection and improvement,
conservation of biodiversity and management of resources through establishing a community organisation
in Tanguar Haor area. Based on resource mapping and community mobility to resources and sh survey, the
community people collaboratively identied the degraded or exposed habitat of ora and fauna for protection and
restoration. About 85 hectares reeds bed, grass land, scrub/shrub land and swamp forest came under protection
with the community cooperation. For increasing the vegetation coverage, a total of 125,000 hydrophilic plant,
particularly Hizol (Barringtonia acutangula) and Koroch (Pongamia pinnata) were transplanted on kanda (ridge).
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Zoning of natural resources was plotted with the cooperation of user groups and maintained the habitat for
regeneration of reeds and swamp forests. In the lean season, the haor turns into shaggy land and booms with
150 plant species, including Hizol, Koroch,
Barun, Pitali, and Phragmites. The nearby
community people of those planted areas are
the beneciaries as per the designed modality
of reeds and forests benet sharing.
A co-management model was proposed
and being practiced for Tanguar Haor by the
community. The whole wetland is categorised
into two geographical zones the Core
Zone and the Buffer Zone considering
the maintenance of ecological conditions,
sustainable utilisation of the natural resources,
and conservation of biodiversity. The
management system creates scope of benet
sharing mechanism for extraction, production
and improvement of natural resources that leads to ecological protection and habitat restoration of Tanguar Haor.
Collective effort saved swamp patch
Bangalvita, a tribal village of Tanguar Haor, located close to the hills of Meghalaya state of India.
People of this village are well aware about services of haor ecosystem for life and livelihood. The
awareness made them committed to protect resources around them. There is a
nice patch of swamp adjacent to that village which is the pride of the villagers.
One day the beauty of swamp fall under threat of extinction due to collection of
soil from the patch by the contractor for construction of road passing through the
village. Robin Dazel, President of Bangalvita co-management committee came
forward and protested against the work. But the contractor continued to do so. Robin informed this
immediately to villagers and they collectively raised their voice against cutting of soil from the patch.
The huge gathering made the contractor bound to stop cutting of soil from the swamp patch. The
collective initiative strengthened the condence of community to stand against any intervention that
hamper the ecological integrity.
Fish Sanctuaries
Fish sanctuaries are the protected places where harvesting of sh is totally prohibited. These are especially deeper
part of the wetland. The CBSMTH project established 5 sh sanctuaries in different beels of Tanguar Haor. The
project along with the community put katha (bamboo and tree branches) to protect the place from illegal shermen.
The sanctuaries also contributed to the restoration of other aquatic resources, like aquatic plants, snails, turtles,
and phytoplankton.
54 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Sustainable Fish Harvesting Practice
The current management practice allows community to harvest sh from this wetland to a sustainable level under
some conditions on biodiversity conservation issues. The community were given responsibility of protection of
Tanguar Haor resources with the help of Community Guards, including Government law enforcement body deployed
by the district administration. They were also given responsibility for monitoring of Tanguar Haor ecosystem by the
prescribed tools. With the consultation of community members, two guidelines for sh harvesting were developed
that contributed to maintain sustainable limit of sh harvesting and protection of habitats. Community-led monitoring
system was designed and practiced by the community leaders for ensuring the ban period of sh catch and
sustainable yield level of other resources. It may be worth mentioning that the Government supported 3,000 poor
sher families of Tanguar Haor during this ban period (15 April-15 June) annually from VGF package since 2012.
Reduction of Community Dependence on Natural Resources
For sustaining the conservation initiatives, it is imperative to reduce the dependency level of the community on natural
resources. Capacity development of community to involve in alternative income generating activities (AIGAs) is the
most important building block of natural resources management in developing countries. The CBSMTH project
successfully set strategies to develop community capacity in AIGAs through introducing community revolving
funding system with Household Business Plan (HHBP).
More than 7,000 community members accumulated about BDT 20 million through giving subscription (SCM), depositing
savings, taking loan from their common fund, and paying the loan with interest. About 5,555 HH members took loan
from community fund and invested BDT 77,670,000 to run 56 trades/enterprises. Their household level monthly income
increased from BDT 5,877 to BDT 7,963 through running/ getting engaged in business.
This additional earning contributed to improve their livelihoods and social status, and increased mobility to various
arenas. As a result, many of these HH members gradually refrain themselves from illegal shing, and cutting/felling of
plants of this haor. In doing so, pressure on natural resources of the HHs decreases substantively. So, such change
in income level certainly contributes to sustainable conservation of Tanguar Haor resources.
Conservation Efforts for Water Birds in Tanguar Haor
Tanguar Haor has been identied as a key wetland site of international importance, especially because of its vital
link in an international network of sites for migratory water birds. This wetland fullls at least three of the criteria,
each of which alone is sufcient for proposing a Ramsar site. Thus, the haor became the second Ramsar site of
Bangladesh, mainly for wintering water birds. On an average, 50,000 individuals of around 70-80 species, including
many locally and globally threatened birds, are found every year in this haor. Every winter about 60 species of
migratory birds visit Tanguar Haor, as this wetland is an ideal place for their food and habitat.21
The Ministry of Environment and Forests played a pivotal role for monitoring the status of migratory birds in Tanguar
Haor. With assistance from the ministry, different stakeholders came to record water birds in the 1990s. Under
the National Conservation Strategy and Implementation Project-1, small-scale winter bird census was carried
out during this period by the ‘Wetland International’ with voluntary help from the Bangladesh bird club (Bbc). The
Bbc continued the census till 2016 voluntarily. IUCN Bangladesh supported the Bbc from 2011-2016 from the
CBSMTH and its other projects.
21 Alam, A.B.M.S., Chowdhury, M.S.M and Sobhan, I. (2012). Biodiversity of Tanguar Haor: A Ramsar Site of Bangladesh. Volume I: Wildlife, IUCN, Dhaka, Bangladesh. xi+234
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Waterfowl Census in Tanguar Haor (IUCN, 2016)
The CBSMTH project initiated in 2007 brought a signicant change in the status of bird population in Tanguar
Haor. It was evident by the Asian Waterfowl Census Programme under which IUCN Bangladesh in association
with the Bangladesh bird club has been conducting the waterfowl census every year in January. The above bar
chart shows that the number of water birds went on uctuations from 2008 to 2012, and the lowest count was
recorded in 2013.
The increasing trend of waterfowl, especially since
2014 onwards, presents a healthy ecosystem
of Tanguar Haor. It indicates that this wetland
continues to produce rapid invertebrate to feed
migrating and breeding waterfowls and shorebirds.
The wetland’s open water and emergent vegetation
serve as foraging and cover areas for waterfowl
broods and molting adults. Reed beds and bushes
provide vital habitats for migratory song birds, such
as Warblers. The reed beds and water tolerant
trees of Tangua Haor largely favour the wetland’s
breeding birds including several species of Egrets,
Bitterns, Herons, Spot-billed Duck, Little Grebe,
Striated Grassbird, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and other
resident raptors.22
Apart from the census, there has been a number of conservation initiatives under the CBSMTH project. The
declaration of two bird sanctuaries in Tanguar Haor is still considered one of the major achievements of the project.
The sanctuaries or hotspots provide a safe habitat not only for the bird species, but also for other wildlife of the
wetland. The project has also identied the major targeted bird species of the haor, and thus, has taken adequate
measures, which mainly included: (i) Articial nest (new habitat creation) for Pallas’s sh eagle and (ii) Protection for
nesting sites of Indian spot-billed duck.23 Protection measures have been largely undertaken by the community
guards of Tanguar Haor. They have been not only ensuring the protection of sanctuaries, but also taking the
responsibility to rescue birds from illegal hunting.
22 Chowdhury, S.U. (2013). Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary design for Tanguar Haor. IUCN Bangladesh, Dhaka. pp 10.
23 Annual Operational Report. (July 2014-August 2015). Community Based Sustainable Management of Tanguar Haor Project - Phase III (Consolidation). IUCN Bangladesh,
Dhaka. p. 39.
56 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
The CBSMTH project initiated a community-based biodiversity monitoring using a monitoring format. Local
people showed their interest in birds/nature conservation. Individuals from different villages and co-management
committees participated in monitoring activities facilitated by the project.
Establishment of ‘Tanguar Haor Prakiti Sangho’ comprising some schools of the haor area was a unique
initiative of
project where youth that given the opportunity to engage youth in nature conservation. A number of school programmes
were held under the banner of “Prakiti Sangho” greatly motivated the school children towards conservation of the
wetland species, including birds. They can now name many resident and migratory birds, and are also much aware of
the importance of these species towards maintaining ecological integrity of Tanguar Haor.
Out of the project activity, the CBSMTH project facilitated some good initiatives for the conservation of bird
in Tanguar Haor. Bird ringing programme is one of those which is being carried out during waterfowl census in this
wetland. With support from the project, renowned ornithologists of Bangladesh and some other countries visited the
haor several times for ringing water birds. Bird ringing will allow us to know information on dispersal, migration, y
way, critical sites, longevity, behaviour, survival rate, reproductive success and population trends of migratory birds
which is crucial for conservation and management planning. The project also leveraged support to another project of
IUCN in developing wild bird surveillance for avian inuenza at this Ramsar wetland.
The project interventions along with census, bird ringing and awareness activities created a momentum among the
community people of Tanguar Haor. A radical shift in minds of the local people as well as community leaders can
be attributed with their positive attitude towards conservation of species. A sense of responsibility for protecting
water birds were gradually altering the passion for hunting birds in this wetland.
Box 5.1: Pallas’s Fish Eagle – The King of Tanguar Haor!
Pallas’s Fish Eagle is a migratory raptor of Bangladesh. During
summer, it departs our country for Tibet due to availability of
food there and stays there for 3-4 months. This eagle stays
in the country during winter when the haor dries up and
food is abundant for them. They prefer to stay in ocks and
reproduces mostly in our country.
Tanguar Haor provides the largest breeding area in the country
for these eagles. The abundance of food makes the haor an
important site for this species. As identied, there are around
12 nesting sites of Pallas’s eagle in this haor area.
The sh eagle’s characteristics are quite unique. Only a few pairs of the eagle are seen in the
haor every year, and these few pairs have enriched the diversity of the haor. One of the main
characteristics of this bird is that it prefers to nest in the same place over and over again, if it has
the opportunity. The bird nests on the trees of the haor.
Unavailability of suitable trees created breeding problem of this majestic species. The project
erected towers for facilitating suitable place for breeding and marked natural breeding places. The
project also involved community to guard their articial and natural nests. The initiative helped in
nding safe place for laying and incubating eggs and resulted birth of new generation.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Chapter 6
Great diversity of wild waterbirds in Tanguar Haor. © IUCN/ Sakib Ahmed
58 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Community Management of Natural Resources
The communities at Tanguar Haor were seen motivated towards the restoration and conservation of biodiversity
resources at Tanguar Haor. The people showed their interest in running their organization, but the condence
for running community-based organisations by their own is yet to develop. For sustainability of the community
organisations it will be wise to tag them with other nancial organisations, like ‘Palli Shanchay Bank’ that can
take over nancial management of the community-led organisations. To meet the expenses, the fund, which was
created over a long period, should be allowed to revolve across the VCC members and tagging with other nancial
organisation would allow to carry out loan programme properly.
For the organizational activities to be continued, the Upazila Cooperative Ofce may take a very positive role. They
should provide technical and motivational supports to the VCCs and the UCCs to keep on the existing organizational
activities in favour of Tanguar Haor conservation. As soon as possible, the VCCs should be registered with the
Upazila Cooperative Ofce. This will help them become responsible to their works and the cooperative ofce would
be able to monitor the on-going success of the organizational activities. Along with the government, NGOs need
to carry out capacity strengthening for a few more years, so that wings of the government could take up and carry
out initiatives taken previously.
Financial Resource Management
The donors or development partners cannot be responsible to shoulder a poor community forever. They are
responsible for helping the community to learn how to depend on their own to ensure sustainable community
management of natural and environmental resources. At this stage, when a good amount of fund is deposited by
the community under the umbrella of community organizations, it should be revolved for livelihood enhancement,
which can be ensured by tagging those organisations with other reputed government or non-government nancial
organisations as suggested above.
Further, some members found as a defaulter of loan taken from community fund (the SCM). Some took long time
to repay loan. Therefore, a guideline needs to be developed that will provide indication or help in selecting person
for providing loan against the request.
Livelihood and Market Development
The major objective of the livelihood development programme of the CBSMTH project was to reduce anthropogenic
pressure on the resources of Tanguar Haor. The project focused on livelihood development by introducing popular
options of livelihood through using community capital. More issues need to be taken under consideration before
providing livelihood, like availability of raw material, market of product, communities preference, communication and
transportation, and access to bigger market. The recommendations on overcoming the issues are contingent to
identication of the weaknesses of the plan or initiatives. The following scopes could be explored and implemented.
It is essential to ensure availability of raw materials within the reach of the beneciaries when they were trained on
for engaging in specic livelihood options. For example, beneciaries could be trained on both murta cultivation
and mat-making process because there was a good scope for murta cultivation as marshy places were available
all around the household of Tanguar Haor and it would offer benet to community by providing shelter to the
biodiversity and raw materials for mat production, which had both local and external market.
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Innovation with new livelihood options for the community could diversify the engagement of the communities
with the work and could solve unemployment even in the lean period. Introduction of new products with market
opportunities would help the community to come out from poverty.
Demand and price of product largely depend on marketing opportunity of a product. Therefore, concentration
should be given on market linkage for ensuring reasonable price and good prot from a product. Another important
aspect that captures the interest of buyer is amount of the product. Potentials buyers want to purchase a bulk
amount so that they could minimize their transportation and other costs associated with the marketing of that
product. In some cases, beneciaries could not grab the interest of external buyers due to small-scale production.
The future initiative could play a vital role in engaging more community members for production of diverse products
that have external market and also could create a local hub in cooperation with the NGOs or the government
agencies for collecting those products and channeling to the bigger markets.
Communication and transportation are crucial components for marketing of products to the external markets. This
is something that could not be done over-night. The efforts of improving only the internal biodiversity of Tanguar
Haor might not yield sustainable development of the area until the local people are guaranteed better alternatives
for earning their bread and butter.
Ecotourism in Tanguar Haor
Ecotourism enhances local capacity building and employment opportunities. Thus, ecotourism might be an
effective vehicle for empowering the Tanguar Haor communities to ght against poverty and to achieve sustainable
environmental objectives. If institutionalised, it is expected to promote better understanding and appreciation for
water, sh, birds, plants and all other biophysical resources of the haor, local community, and their culture. With
these objectives in mind, the following initiatives might help institutionalise the tourism industry in Tanguar Haor.
1. The tourists should be ensured with clean and healthy lodges to stay in. It should have healthy
sanitation facilities such as clean toilet, continuous water supply, and clean drinking water.
2. An observation tower and tourist boats are some added requirements for ourishing tourism activities
in the area.
3. To make the tourists feel free and secured, tourist police or some kind of security organisation could
be arranged.
4. The communication network should be good enough to attract tourists from home and abroad to
Tanguar Haor.
5. Above all, well-trained tourist guides are of great importance both for the satisfaction of the tourists
and the conservation of natural and cultural resources in the area.
The project made a soft start for introducing ecotourism in Tanguar Haor that need to be improved and scaled up.
Promotion of Climate-resilient Livelihood
Livelihood improvement for reduction of dependency of communities are crucial for biodiversity conservation.
Therefore, selection of proper livelihood options is an important task. Climate change make the job more difcult
for development planners. The project has tried to address climate change, but more concentration is required for
effective investment for livelihood enhancement. Future programmes should address impact of climate change and
extend help to the community for adopting climate resilient livelihood options for their betterment.
60 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Biodiversity Monitoring
The project has introduced participatory biodiversity monitoring to the community that will help in assessing health
of Tanguar Haor resources. This activity needs to be carried out with help from specialised organisation. This type
of assessment will guide policy-makers in taking decisions with regard to resource management.
Motivation, Awareness and Capacity Building
The project has carried out awareness and capacity building programme
which resulted in creation of awareness at local and national levels to
a certain scale. Intensive motivation, awareness and capacity building
campaign should be grounded involving media at grassroots level on
conservation importance for sustainable livelihood. Awareness involving all
stakeholders, especially the future generation, will contribute to enhanced
understanding in favour of conservation.
Swamp Plantation
There is a huge scope for plantation with swamp tree species in Tanguar
Haor that can provide shelter to the sh and act as sh breeding ground.
Swamp forest plays an important role for nursing of mammals and reptiles
as well. It has an important role in protecting household from high waves
during the monsoon. These forests also provide fuel wood for domestic
use. The CBSMTH project planted swamp sapling in some areas of
Tanguar Haor and more potential areas need to be covered in the future.
© IUCN/ Md. Mehedi Hasan
Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Promotion of Climate Smart Stove and Plantation of Fast-growing Plants
The communities of Tanguar Haor have to depend on swamp forests for their fuel wood as they do not have to
access to natural gas. Promotion of low-fuel-consuming stove can potentially reduce use of fuel wood and that
ultimately reduce dependency of people over the swamp forests. In addition, fast-growing threes can be grown on
raised land (kanda) or homesteads for managing demand for fuel wood.
Sustainability Potentials and Conclusions
Sustainability – where is it?
The community showed commendable improvement in their leadership, management of community-based
organisation and biodiversity conservation with support from implementing organizations. However, capacity for
running community-based organisations independently still need improvement. The CBSMTH project was able
to involve 57.38% population in the co-management of Tanguar Haor. About 43% population is still out of co-
management system and inclusion of rest of the population is necessary for wise management of Tanguar Haor
It has been realised during the study that people were motivated and have positive intension in favour of biodiversity
conservation and want to continue activities for betterment of their livelihoods. However, they still seek for external
nursing for improving their capacity and condence to run their organisations and conservation efforts independently.
Exploring the potentials for sustainability
Co-management approach as governance mechanism of Tanguar Haor established its root quite
The project showed success in covering the target area and population with the given resources.
Scaling up took place rapidly as per the project goal.
Formation of groups and zeal for savings found positive among members.
Illegal shing and poaching reduced signicantly.
Government brought poor sherman and non-sherman (non-commercial) under the social safety net
programme (VGF).
Cent percent of the female members exhibited commendable performance in utilizing their loan
money and the timely return of the loan.
Community rights and responsibilities were more pronounced through the CBSMTH project. However,
sustainability was a big challenge in Tanguar Haor resource management.
IUCN as a lead project implementing agency managed to create zeal among stakeholders about
the collaborative governance of Tanguar Haor, which is very important for future intervention and/or
scaling up of the project.
Some UCC leaders were found vocal and condent. On being asked on their organizational ability
they shouted, “DC, UNOs are all for people and the society; we will go to them and tell them our
demand from them for the conservation of the ecosystem of Tanguar Haor”. This is praiseworthy that
they understand their rights and responsibility of the government ofces.
Women were found very active and motivated to keep up the work. This belief and condence need
to be used for the environmental conservation at Tanguar Haor.
62 Tanguar Haor
A Decade-long Conservation Journey
Steps to sustainability
The communities were found motivated towards conservation, which is commendable. The eld survey indicated
more cooperation from Upazila and District level administrations required for community-based management of
Tanguar Haor. In a standard co-management mechanism, the government ofces, community, and the development
organizations should integrate their efforts to ascertain the objectives of any conservation work. Therefore, the
following points need to be taken into consideration for sustainability of the present decade-long initiative.
(1) The UCCs should be registered with the Upazila Cooperative Ofce so that the UCCs get organisational
prescription from that ofce. This will help the community organisations to survive and ourish.
(2) Intensive monitoring from the local and district level administrations is necessary to step up conservation
effort by the community.
(3) Since Tanguar Haor is a Ramsar site, there is no scope for the haor to be managed under leasing
system, which was previously proved destructive for the ecosystem of the haor. What is needed is to
have a comprehensive plan for the management of the ecological resources, so that the ecosystem
services sustain. Selling ecosystem services, promoting ecotourism for example, could be an excellent
option for the government to sustainably manage the haor while earning signicant revenue from
(4) Institutionalising the community-patrolling group is an obvious option for saving the ecosystem
health of Tanguar Haor. The Ansars should be strictly administered to render their services to the
conservation of the ecological resources of the haor. Rigorous monitoring is necessary from the
THMC for establishing better coordination between the Ansar and the community guards.
(5) The government should support the CPG with nancial assistance so that they can save the haor from
miscreants. However, community should also play their parts in supporting the CPG. Thus, the CPG
will run with the joint-support of the government and the community, thus make them accountable to
both the entities.
(6) Political commitment to environmental conservation at both national and local levels is very important
for sustainable management of the ecological resources of Tanguar Haor.
(7) Since the haor dwellers have no alternative income sources other than shing during the monsoon,
the existing VGF programmes should be expanded and strengthened during the shing ban period.
Along with the VGF programme, innovative AIG options need to be introduced so that people can be
employed during the lean period.
(8) The stakeholder motivation towards biodiversity conservation is necessary. Motivational programmes
for the stakeholders for the sustenance of Tanguar Haor with all its ecological resources should be a
continued process.
(9) Initiatives need to be taken to link up community-based organisation with nancial organization(s) for
smooth running of their nancial activities.
The above recommendations are some broad initiatives that need to be continued to ensure sustainable
management of Tanguar Haor. However, this list of initiative is not exhaustive. There are more problem-oriented
steps and solutions, which also will require sufcient attention of the government and the community. To the
end, only a coordinated effort of the community, development organizations, and the government could be a
comprehensive solution to resolve the degradation of Tanguar Haor resources.
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