Chittagong Hill Tracts Programme

Creative Conservation Alliance (CCA) is dedicated to the ecological and cultural preservation of Bangladesh’s last remaining wild places. They aim to empower local people as true stakeholders of their own landscapes and futures.

This project is a sustainable, community- owned conservation initiative that empowers indigenous tribesmen to act as stewards of their own unique and endangered ecosystem, heritage, and culture. Through the exchange of incentives in a pilot project, the CCA has successfully reduced hunting pressure on 15 species by 50% in the last remaining primary tropical forest in Bangladesh.  This area harbours the very last in-country populations of several species of turtles as well as clouded leopards, Chinese pangolins, Asian elephants and sun bears. The communities sign moratoriums on hunting of species in return for new schools and improved market access for their craft products, thus reducing hunting

EOCA funding will:
– Expand this programme by funding teachers for 2 more schools, providing incentives for reducing hunting.
– Employ ten more parabiologists – local, reformed indigenous hunters to monitor wildlife, illegal wildlife trade and logging and act as conservation ambassadors for the region.
– Signi cantly relieve subsistence hunting pressure throughout the region.
– Create and expand markets for local craft products.

The Update

December 2017:
A lot has been happening and achieved within the six months of this project’s start, including:
– The successful establishment of two additional schools for conservation;
– The training and recruitment of seven more parabiologists;
– Establishment of the Aatong jewellery product line in Aranya boutique, in partnership with BCraft, giving employment to nine Mro women artisans;
– Conducting of five artisan training workshops to further augment employment in the Aatong jewellery line;
– Undertaking indigo cultivation on a 2 hectare pilot plot, producing 20kg of quality indigo powder, employing two men and seven women. This has secured the communities an order for 300kg in 2018. A further three indigo processing centres will be established in three more villages to meet this demand. It is anticipated that nearly 40 individuals will be employed to process indigo in 2018.
– A plant nursery has been established to help reduce the community’s dependence on forest resources. It hopes to produce at least 10,000 bamboo saplings in 2018 to supply villagers as an alternative income. The nurseries will also cultivate rare and keystone plant species to accelerate reforestation efforts;
– Six large metal signboards have been produced with the intention of these demarcating the Sangu Matamuhuri Reserve Forest;
– Establishment of ten Indigenous Community Conservation Areas covering a total of 500 hectares;
– Conducting of numerous meetings with the community and local officials to help ensure the success of the hard work being carried out, as well as the success of the project.

Final update:
The project continues to support two additional primary schools established at the time of the interim update, providing education to 85 indigenous children.

As planned, ten more parabiologists have now been recruited and trained through this project. The parabiologists’ duties are varied and include amongst other things: camera trapping and species monitoring, monitoring hornbill nests, logging illegal activity, and repatriation of rescued tortoises and turtles.

The established Aatong jewellery product line is continuing to be successful and will soon be sold internationally.

The newly established plant nursery produced over 10,000 bamboo saplings in 2018. This sustainable bamboo cultivation is undertaken in buffer areas so as not to disturb forested areas. Bamboo is used as a food source, in building homes and furniture and it is also hoped that bamboo cottage industries will be created to sell bamboo products.

Hard work continues and the Programme now hopes to expand the ten Indigenous Community Conservation Areas to continue in its efforts to help mitigate the damage done from decades of illegal logging and poaching.

In January 2022, 10 captive-bred Asian giant forest tortoises were released into Bangladesh’s Chattogram Hill Tracts.  So much has been achieved and the programme and work by CCA continues to develop with incredible success.  Read more about the giant tortoises and the ongoing work of CCA in this article by Mongabay