The city of Rajshahi in Bangladesh is taking several measures to improve and better manage its open green spaces, create awareness about biodiversity, promote outdoor activities, and also encourage active participation, social interaction, and better physical and mental well-being among its residents.
Supported by the Urban-LEDS project, natural asset maps to record Rajshahi’s natural resources, city-wide and for each of its 30 administrative zones, have been completed. The Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) is also equipped with GIS-based treemaps, prepared for selected locations, to represent the spatial distribution of various tree species in the city. Nearly 1800 trees at various locations, including Shahid Kamruzzaman Park, Shalbagan Park, the Kolpona-Talaimari river embankment, and along five key traffic islands have been labelled to improve public awareness and promote conservation. Furthermore, a pictorial handbook that captures the common tree species in Rajshahi is being prepared.
The city will also soon have an overarching vision and strategy to steer its efforts to develop and conserve its open spaces and associated biodiversity. The local community and key institutions that were engaged through interactions and stakeholder discussions, have highlighted the importance of open spaces, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and put forth suggestions on the city’s vision and priorities.
In December 2020, Rajshahi commenced a demonstration pilot for a bio-diverse plantation scheme along a 2.5-km-long stretch of open space, supported by the Urban-LEDS II project. The plantation of more than 800 saplings along 29 targeted slopes of Rajshahi’s Kolpona-Talaimari river embankment was completed in February 2021. The species that were planted are native, have attractive flowers, and support several ecosystems. A local nursery that undertook the pilot-scale plantation is also supporting the RCC with its maintenance. The plants will help transform the river embankment into an area rich with biodiversity in the coming months, enabling residents and visitors to experience the benefits of open green spaces.