Environmental Engineering Reference
negative impact on coastal ecosystems. In addition, cyclones, storm surges, harmful
boat anchoring practices, uses of destructive fi shing gear, and other anthropogenic
activities have taken the island's fl ora and fauna in danger.
At past, several NGOs and organizations like Centre for Advanced Research in
Natural Resources and Management (CARINAM), Centre for Natural Resource
Studies (CNRS), Marine Life Alliance (MLA), and POUSH have implemented
activities related to biodiversity conservation on the island, contributing greatly to
increasing awareness among the local community about the need to conserve
resources on the island, particularly turtle conservation (Molony et al. 2006 ).
An assessment of the status of St Martin's Island according to criteria used by
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) to determine the suitability of a site for
protected area status was undertaken by Tomascik in 1997. According to the
assessment, St Martin's Island was considered to satisfy the requirements for IUCN
Protected Area Category II or Marine Park (Tomascik 1997 ). A zoning plan was
subsequently developed as part of a management plan to manage the island as a
marine protected area. The management plan was never implemented and the IUCN
protected area category never applied.
As per section 5 of the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995, the
Government of Bangladesh by the Department of Environment (DoE) is empow-
ered to declare any area as an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) if such an area is
threatened to be environmentally critical. Considering its rich natural biodiversity,
the Department of Environment (DoE) in a gazette notifi cation declared St Martin's
as an ECA on 19 April 1999 (Islam 2001 ). Extraction of coral, seashell and conch,
felling of trees and building structures were declared restricted in the gazette.
In addition, building of any structure and carrying out any activity that might
pollute the environment or harm the fl ora and fauna in an ECA is strictly prohibited.
Despite that, nearly 100 privately owned hotels and restaurants are currently doing
business in the small island, and surprisingly most of these business houses have
established themselves in last 14 years (Moudud 2010 ). However, the unauthorized
structures developed on St Martin's over the years with law enforcers and government
agencies turning a blind eye to the violation.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) later undertook a “Conservation
of Biodiversity, Marine Park Establishment & Eco-tourism Development at
St Martin's Island Project” spanning from 2001 to 2007, mainly to conserve island's
biodiversity, protect environment and halting indiscriminate housing by private
companies and individuals (Moudud 2010 ). After years of irregularities, absence of
proper monitoring and spending a staggering Tk 1.3 million, the project turned out
to be a failure without making any headway. The MoEF has prepared a second
phase of the project now to achieve the project goals and preserve natural resources
of the island.