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Plantation of eucalyptus increasing alarmingly in Sylhet

36Plantation of eucalyptus trees is increasing alarmingly at different upazilas in Sylhet district in recent years, posing severe threat to environment.
Eucalyptus, originating in Australia, is highly detrimental to our environment mostly because its rate of transpiration is awfully high. It also causes serious harm to both the crops and cultivable lands. Pollen emission from its flowers is also high, which may cause respiratory problems to humans, environmentalists and agriculturists said.
Plantation of the hazardous tree in the region is so extensive that it can easily be found in large numbers on almost every yard, office premises, by the roadsides and along the railway tracks.
It is alleged that the nurseries in the region are producing and selling saplings of the harmful tree.
While visiting a number of villages of the district this correspondent found a huge number of rows of eucalyptus trees in the areas as the local people are hardly aware of the harmful effects of the tree on soil fertility and ecology.
Sources alleged that people especially in the rural areas choose it mainly due to its fast growth and demand for its cheap timber and fuel wood.
According to Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Sylhet office sources eucalyptus tree absorbs water 18-20 times more than any other tree in the country. It also causes damage to soil fertility, so it is detrimental to cultivable land. It is also harmful for other trees, sources further said.
If the plantation of the tree increases day by day the region may become almost a desert in future, experts opined. Presently the situation has  almost gone out of control in recent years  as nurseries around the country produce and sell the saplings abundantly, sources alleged.
Some nursery owners said they grow the saplings of eucalyptus as they get much profit. They are aware of the bad effect of the tree but they have to grow and sell it for the sake of lucrative business.
Divisional Forest Officer, Sylhet Dalwar Hossain  told that the ministry of environment and forest in an official order asked the forest department to exclude eucalyptus from its afforestation  programme and inform the people about its effects on the environment.
But despite these efforts people still show their fondness for its plantation as they can get quick return from the tree in comparison with   other wooden trees.
Conscious people of the region opined that the government and non-government organisations should take up awareness campaigns to apprise mass people of its adverse impacts.