Accessibility links

Sundarbans: future imperfect climate adaptation report

The eco-region of Sundarbans is unique and fragile because it is one of the most extensive mangrove forests in the world. This report describes the Sundarbans region and the impacts of climate change using evidence from the people who live there, scientific data, and efforts to address the problems of the imminent threats and vulnerabilities to this fragile ecosystem.

The report highlights the following recurrent themes from the voices of inhabitants of the Sundarbans.

  • Rising sea level: most of the islands in the Sundarbans are low lying, meaning that as the sea level rises, land is lost to the sea. This puts further pressure on agriculture production, yet the salinity of the water destroys the productivity of the soil.
  • Unpredictable rainfall patterns: changing rainfall patterns are making conventional cultivation of crops difficult for farmers.
  • Impact on fisheries: there are fewer fish because the increased salinity of water has caused them to migrate.
  • Frequency and intensity of storms has increased causing further vulnerability.

The publication uses data regarding the Sundarbans over eighteen years to verify the climate witness accounts scientifically as follows.

  • Environmental factors affecting farming: the contributing factors to decreasing rainfall and extreme weather can be scientifically measured using the ambient temperature change over land, as well as change in rainfall pattern and forest cover.
  • Environmental factors affecting fishing: the studies show a steady decline in the catch per unit effort of fish and confirm that increasing salinity in the estuarine water is leading to a depletion of freshwater fish species.
  • Sea level change and coastal erosion: the study concluded that the relative mean sea level in Sagar and adjoining areas of the Bay of Bengal was rising at 3.14mm per year, compared to a global estimate of between 0.5 and 3mm per year.
  • Change in high intensity events: both studies concluded that although storms and cyclones were rarer, they tended to do more damage when they occurred.

The report concludes that the observations made by the inhabitants of the Sundarbans are mostly grounded in scientific fact.