Bangladesh Wetland Info

Characteristics being located in the lower edge of the topography, wetlands are subject to periodic inundation/ flooding, shallow to deep, during wet monsoon. To understand the hydro-geomorphological characteristics of the wetlands, a typical haor may be considered as an ideal example. Apart from the major river courses and streams, the major wetlands of fluvial origin occupy the floodplains. The manmade wetlands including ponds, dighis and lakes are distributed all over the floodplains. Some important wetlands of the country are chalan beel, Atrai basin, lower Punarbhaba floodplain, Gopalganj-Khulna Beels, Arial Beel, and Surma-Kushiyara floodplain

Importance the wetlands have a wide range of ecological, socio-cultural, economic and commercial importance and values in Bangladesh. These are important habitats for a large variety of flora and fauna of local, national and regional significance. In the freshwater wetlands the floral composition. Wetlands are critically important in Bangladesh for human settlements, biodiversity, fisheries, agricultural diversity, navigation & communication, and ecotourism

Degradation of wetlands has caused several problems including extinction and reduction of wildlife, extinction of many indigenous wild and domesticated rice varieties, loss of many indigenous aquatic plants, herbs, shrubs and weeds, loss of natural soil nutrients, loss of natural water reservoirs and of their resultant benefits, increase in the occurrence of flooding and degeneration of wetland based ecosystems, occupations, socio-economic institutions and cultures.


Haors are large saucer-shaped flood plain depressions located mostly in north-eastern region of the country covering about 25% of the entire region. There are altogether 411 haors comprising an area of about 8000 km2 dispersed in the districts of Sunamgonj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Hobigonj, Netrokona & Kishoreganj.
The Haors are enriched with various aquatic biodiversities along with 140 species of fish. About 8000 migratory wild birds visit the area annually. The extreme flashy character of the rivers and high rain fall compare to other part of the country in the region causes frequent flash floods in the Haor.
To protect the crops in the Haor areas, the erstwhile Zamindars with the participation of the local people used to construct small dykes and appurtenant structures for early flood protection and irrigation. Since 1966, BWDB adopted better technology and completed 46 projects under EIP & SRP in the Sunamgonj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Hobigonj, Netrokona and Kishoreganj districts. A total of about 0.29 million hectare cultivable land has been made flash flood free by implementing about 2000 km submersible embankment and ancillary structures.
In Haor area three major resources viz. land, water & human resource could not be utilized in an integrated way due to its unique geographical as well as complex hydrological characteristics. Some of the important aspects to utilize the resource are to ensure harvesting of principal crop (Boro), enhancement of communication net works, multiple use of water resources with emphasis on fishery, agriculture, cattle farming and employment opportunities for both men & women throughout the year.
The flood control infrastructures in these districts have been damaged by recent floods requiring immediate repair and rehabilitation. Boro rice in these project areas were damaged and will continue to be damaged till such time arrangements for protecting them from early flash floods are made. Boro being the only crop grown in the area during the year, the repair and rehabilitation work need to be taken up immediately to check starvation due to repeated damage of the only crop through recurring early flash floods almost every year.


Baor or Oxbow Lake a crescent-shaped lake formed when a river bank forms across the neck of a well-developed meander; it is found on the floodplain of a river. Oxbows are caused by the loops of meanders being cut-off at times by floods, causing the river subsequently to adopt a shorter course. Usually, oxbow lakes become plugged with sediment where they adjoin the channel and then progressively fill in.
In Bangladesh, oxbow lakes are quite visible in the older floodplains. Locally, the feature is also known as beel, baor and jheel. These abandoned channels are rich in organic matters, because of profuse aquatic vegetation growth in clay to fine silty-clay sediments. Usually, oxbow lakes are deeply flooded during the monsoon, either through local rainfall and runoff water or by river flood. Depending upon the depth of flooding, the rims of the lakes are used for boro rice cultivation, at least in the early stage. Once the lake gets filled with alluvium, it comes under rice cultivation. These lakes support a large variety of aquatic flora and fauna. Some of the lakes are considered to be very important freshwater fishing grounds, and are locally called jalmahal. During the monsoon season oxbow lakes act as local water reservoirs, and help to control the local flood level. In some areas, these lakes serve as valuable sources of irrigation during the dry season.


Beel a large surface waterbody that accumulates surface runoff water through internal drainage channels; these depressions are mostly topographic lows produced by erosions and are seen all over Bangladesh. The term beel is synonymous to baor, and familiar in greater comilla, faridpur, dhaka and pabna districts. Beels are small saucer-like depressions of a marshy character. Many of the beels dry up in the winter but during the rains expand into broad and shallow sheets of water, which may be described as fresh water lagoons.
In the active floodplains of the Surma-Meghna, the Brahmaputra-Jamuna, and the Ganges-Padma river systems, there are several large and small beels. In Bangladesh, there are thousands of beels of different sizes. Some of the most common names are chalan beel, gopalganj-khulna beel and arial beel. Most of these large beels have shrunk quite considerably in recent decades. For instance, in the early 19th century Chalan Beel used to cover an area of about 1,085 sq km but it was reduced to 368 sq km in 1909, of which only 85 sq km remains underwater throughout the year. It has since shrunk to only 26 sq km. Beels are mainly fed by surface runoff water. A few larger ones are fed by floodwater during the wet season from the parent river channel. Normally, beels remain deeply flooded for most of the wet season and the rims are primarily used for either boro cultivation or deepwater rice. Like baors, beels are also important wetlands and regarded as valuable fish and wildlife habitat.

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