A Report Prepared by WildTeam Supported by Korean EPZ, Youngone Corporation
Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) is an initiative of Youngone Corporation, a company based in South Korea. KEPZ initiative included re-greening of the barren land and rehabilitating the natural environment of the area as part of developing it as an eco-friendly export processing zone. In the past, about two decades KEPZ has created several large marshlands and undertaken tree plantation on a large scale to turn more than half the land into fenland and woods. Casual observations asserted the remarkable speed of recolonization of those newly created marshes and greeneries by wildlife long lost from that area. A study on the faunal diversity and the ecology of the KEPZ was undertaken to evaluate the success of re-greening of the area and rehabilitation of the wildlife.The study listed nearly 86 species of butterflies, 20 species of dragonflies and damselflies, seven species of amphibians, nine species of reptiles, 124 species of birds, and 11 species of mammals. The lesson learned from the KEPZ initiative has relevance to the re-greening, re-wilding, and wildlife rehabilitation efforts elsewhere in Bangladesh.
Youngone Corporation is an environmentally responsible world-class private initiative. The company started a green zone called Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) on the south bank of the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram (formerly Chittagong), Bangladesh, in 1999. Today the large part of the 2,500 acres of barren land turned into a sanctuary for many threatened species of this country. Mr. Kihak Sung, Chairman and CEO of Youngone, has the vision to produce goods and develop infrastructure without causing harm to the environment. He designed a green concept as a strategy and policy pursued by Youngone. By now Youngone planted more than 2 million trees and created 17 reservoirs, which are home to a large number of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Today KEPZ is composed of only 20% industrial area and 80% natural area with rich biodiversity.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines green industry as "a pathway of sustainable growth by undertaking green public investments and implementing public policy initiatives that encourage environmentally responsible private investments". In line with UNEP's guidelines, KEPZ has already created its own version of green industries, which made home to a large number of wildlife. Based on Youngone Corporation's commitment to a healthy planet and making the workplaces environment-friendly, WildTeam hereby showed interest to do a survey within the KEPZ area to make an inventory of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, and gather information on their habitat, ecology, and threats. A highly experienced team with different skill sets such as bird specialist, wildlife biologist, camera trap survey expert, and data analyst worked on this project.
The survey results will support KEPZ develop a conservation plan to protect its biodiversity and minimize threats.
The duration of the project was from December 2020 to January 2022. Within this period two surveys were conducted. The first survey was carried out from December 3-30, 2020, and the second survey was done from December 15, 2021, to January 09, 2022.
The survey was done in the Korean Export Processing Zone located in Anowara upazila of Chattogram district of Bangladesh.
As the study area is covered with various types of habitats such as grassland, forest, plain land, hill tracts, and waterbody, it was divided into sections, for each habitat. The entire area was divided into four blocks named H, I, J, K. Each block was further divided into sub-blocks to collect the data appropriately. Both direct and indirect observation methods were followed for this survey. For the direct method (counting the animals), transect and block survey techniques were followed. For the indirect method, counting signs or signals such as dung, tracks, pug marks, and calls were recorded.
For mammals, camera traps were set to capture the images of animals.The survey team recorded bird species by direct observation and hearing the calls while walking along the transects within the blocks. Butterflies and damselflies were recorded by direct observation. Frogs and toads go hibernation in winter, however, the survey team was able to record only a few species of them.
All the animals sighted were listed by the grids.
Sign surveys were useful to identify the nocturnal animals.
Camera traps are a useful tool for collecting information on vertebrate species, especially nocturnal animals.
● 5 units of GPS
● 5 DSLR cameras
● 5 pairs of binoculars
● 10 camera traps
● Field data collection form and data storage form
From the survey, 257 species of fauna were recorded - 11 species of mammals including three wild elephants (two adults and one calf), 124 species of birds, nine species of reptiles, seven species of amphibians, 86 species of butterflies, and 20 species of Dragonflies and Damselflies (Annex 1).
Asian Elephants are Critically Endangered in Bangladesh for various reasons. Bangladesh Forest Department attributes electrocution, aging, slipping, and falling from hills to most elephant deaths in Bangladesh. They have been visiting KEPZ since 2011. Unfortunately, conflicts with elephants have been observed in the past three years here. Three people were killed and KEPZ property was damaged by elephants. This conflict is on the rise and proper actions should be taken to mitigate this conflict. Conflicts with other animals are also observed here.
Suggestions to mitigate human-elephant conflict issues in KEPZ:
• Feeding, foraging, and territorial behaviour of elephants be studied;
• Elephant movement patterns and corridors be studied;
• The daily activity/movement pattern be plotted on a map of KEPZ and its neighbouring areas:
• Source population of these elephants should be identified;
• Land-use planning is necessary, which guides and helps prepare an action plan on human-elephant conflict issues;
• Discourage planting plants that attract elephants. For example, coconut trees. Orchard gardens including jackfruits, paddy, and a few vegetables are also the attractants of the elephants;
• Capacity building: an employee along with his/her regular activities, could monitor biodiversity including human-elephant conflict issues;
• Elephant Response Team (ERT), comprising existing security guards be formed, and trained;
• Awareness-raising activities: KEPZ employees/workers should be made aware of the DOs and DON'Ts when the elephants are around;
• A manual on human-elephant conflict mitigation measures could be prepared and distributed;
• Solar electric fencing may be installed at entry points (Forest Department should be consulted on this);
• An alarm system by developing an app be in place;
• A hotline to inform the presence/movement of elephants be in place;
• CCTV cameras be installed at strategic locations;
• Watch towers be in place at strategic locations;
• Searchlights be installed at strategic locations;
• Trenches could be dug at different locations to discourage elephant movement (FD should be consulted on this)
• Translocation of elephants: this needs the involvement of FD; and
• Radio-collaring of the immobilized elephants to monitor their movement.
While the current trend is destroying nature and building concrete infrastructure Korean Export Processing Zone is creating a safe heaven for the country's outstanding but declining biodiversity. The biodiversity survey at the KEPZ was conducted by WildTeam with a goal to accomplish Youngone Corporation's commitment to restoring and conserving the natural environment and creating a healthy working environment for KEPZ's employees. The survey recorded a total of 258 species of fauna including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The survey also recorded human-wildlife conflict information that took place at KEPZ. Conflicts with elephants are quite severe there and it took a toll on human lives and KEPZ property. Studying the behaviour and movement patterns of the elephants; not planting trees or growing crops that attract elephants; educating the KEPZ community on the importance of elements and the management of conflict situations are among the proposed measures to mitigate human-elephant conflict. Furthermore, to intensify its nature conservation efforts KEPZ should develop a long-term action plan to monitor and study the biodiversity; identify and mitigate threats; educating the local community on the importance of biodiversity and its role to protect them. A dedicated biodiversity team should be developed to carry out conservation activities within and around KEPZ. The KEPZ is an excellent example of green space in a commercial city like Chattogram and this re-wilding model should be followed by others.
Surveyors and authors
Enam Ul Haque, WildTeam and Bangladesh Bird Club, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Md. Anwarul Islam, WildTeam, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Rezvin Akter, WildTeam, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tahsina Saniat, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Saidul Amin, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Ripon Chandra Roy, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Syeda Fahmida Jahan, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Seam Ferdous Emon, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Isma Azam Rezu, WildTeam, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Abu Naim, WildTeam, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jafar Ahamed, KEPZ, Chattogram, Bangladesh
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