Screwpine trees (known in Bangla as Keya) often act as a defensive wall for Saint Martin's island when it comes to protection against different types of natural calamities.
Even five years ago, the range of the Screwpine forest around the island was as much as 20 kilometres, which subsequently has been reduced to only 8 kilometres. It has been a huge concern for environmental conservation, added to the fact that the local authorities are turning a blind eye to the whole happening.
The reason behind the rampant deforestation is both natural and man-made; however, the man-made issues outweigh the natural ones, as more resorts and tourist attractions are being built on the island, often at the cost of the whole ecosystem.
As per the locals, there have been a lot of losses due to tidal waves in the last two years, which was quite unheard of in the past.
Experts have also blamed the local authorities for their apathy, and the locals, despite having been vocal about the issue for quite some time, did not get any appropriate response from the responsible authorities. Many infrastructures have been built in those places that have been detrimental to the natural ecosystem.
"Influential people first bought land on the island and then burned the screw pine forests down."
"After that, they built permanent infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, and restaurants. However, according to the rules, there is no opportunity to bring materials to construct paved structures in St. Martin. But almost all the structures are paved. Despite this being in front of the eyes of the Department of Environment, they are silent," said two former Union Parishad Chairpersons of the island, quoted by Prothom Alo.
The first building was built on the island in 2004, and at present, there are as many as 138 buildings.
Although it was only four years ago, the number of such buildings on Saint Martin used to be only 48, which translates to the fact that more than 90 such structures have been built on the island in these four years.
A lot of restaurants have also been built inside the screw pine forests, and as a result, this has done nothing but deteriorate the situation that has already been persistent. It has been seen that the entire island has undergone massive deforestation, with the North, South, and West sections bearing the burns the most.
Unless the appropriate authorities take measures, the situation will worsen. Without the natural barrier of the screwpine forests, the island will not be able to tackle natural disasters as it used to in the past.