|Md Tareq Rahman
|Nurur R. Khan, Samina Shamsi
This student project seeks to propose a rural (re)development scheme fostering community-based eco-tourism in haor areas in order to transform this wetland destination in a sustainable way. The aim is to ensure long-term economic viability to local communities, conservation and sustainable management of natural resources of Tanguar Haor while enhancing visitors’ experience and community well-being.
Tanguar Haor is one of Bangladesh’s most beautiful and largest freshwater wetlands full of amazing resources in its heart. In 2000, the haor became the country’s second Ramsar site – a wetland of international importance. The haor is located in the north-eastern district of Sunamgonj (under Sylhet Division) covering more than 10,000 hectares, supporting at least 60,000 population (1). Tanguar Haor holds outstanding values not only for supporting the local population with livelihoods from its freshwater ecosystems but also for providing habitat for diverse flora and fauna including migratory and resident waterfowls and being the last vestiges of freshwater evergreen swamp forest. The Government of Bangladesh classified it as an ‘Ecologically Critical Area’ and introduced a community-based management plan framework and guidelines in 2015.
Over the last two centuries, the haor’s natural resources have been significantly decreased due to deforestation, illegal fishing, and the destruction of its food cycle. The vision of this project is to protect its biodiversity and ecosystem by engaging local people while improving their socio-economic conditions through eco-tourism. A proper and maintained eco-tourism can make a great symbiotic relationship between nature and community in Tanguar Haor. Offering neighbourhood homestays to the tourist makes them more engaged with the community and their lifestyle in the process, the community becomes the part of service chain and creates more opportunities for their economic benefit. As this area is environmentally sensitive and remote, the proposed project adopts the traditional or local building approach, easy to build and environment-friendly structures.
The proposed tourist village consists of family homestay areas, a social space for multipurpose activities, dormitory areas, a training centre and a trainer accommodation area, organized in a linear pattern. Each cluster includes a separate hut for tourists adjacent to existing villagers’ houses and ancillary structures. The proposed facilities are designed on raised platforms called machan so as they do not disrupt the delicate haor eco-systems but adapt to the local site conditions and built fabrics which are subject to flooding for about one-third of the year.