Adaptation to the Future - Coping with Declining Freshwater Supplies and Clobal Climate Change

The Sundarbans and adjacent coastal waters of Bangladesh are already experiencing the ecological effects of global climate change and declining freshwater supplies: seawater is encroaching farther into the mangrove forest and sedimentation is increasing in areas of key biological importance. Current understanding of the physical processes and the details of ecological effects on this region and its wildlife are rudimentary and insufficient for developing management strategies needed to protect this global hotspot of cetacean diversity and abundance. This general lack of knowledge has potentially catastrophic consequences for biological productivity and diversity and human welfare. Because cetaceans reflect the health of the environments where they live, measures taken to ensure their conservation will have significant positive impacts on conserving biodiversity more generally and for improving human welfare in the context of global climate change.

 

BCDP is working towards establishing a protected area network for cetacean diversity in Bangladesh as a mechanism for understanding the ecological impacts of climate change and declining freshwater supplies and implementing effective strategies to manage human-wildlife adaptation. It is envisaged that establishment of the protected area network will benefit the overall goal of enhancing fisheries in adjacent waters. This will be critical for managing expected declines in the overall productivity of fish stocks.

 

Knowledge of the fine scale distribution of freshwater and coastal cetaceans can be used as an early-warning system of environmental change in the Sundarbans and offshore waters, and as an informative tool for developing adaptive responses in the face of human needs for the same resources. As more information becomes available, management responses may be altered to achieve optimum benefits for cetaceans and local people.