Bangladesh tree planting creates big societal and economic benefits – as opposed to cutting them down.
As a result of nostalgia and a greater understanding of traditional medicine, Bangladeshi people are reaping the benefits of planting healing herbal trees rather than chopping them down to make space for food crops.
Everything Needed is Already Here
The natural world has everything we need to live healthy, vibrant, and enjoyable lives. While we all understand modern technologies’ benefits, there is a common misconception that the natural world is antiquated and no longer has anything to offer us.
But even our technologies ultimately come from the earth and will return one day. Indigenous peoples have understood the importance of living in tandem with nature and how much fulfillment can come from it.
However, they also know that the natural world has a significant benefit in the form of medicine. 40% of all pharmaceuticals are manufactured using natural ingredients that could be grown in your backyard; common drugs such as aspirin and artemisinin originated in traditional medicine.
Despite this fact, modernity has deemed these old ways of operating in our world obsolete, and as such, many still need to remember the benefits that traditional medicine can bring.
In Bangladesh tree planting has made a resurgence. This is a resurgence of the cultivation of herbal trees used to create classic and conventional treatments. The reason could be found in common nostalgia from the 1990s, as mass media promoted the preservation of these herbal trees at the time.
A Mix of Nostalgia and Deeper Knowledge
In the 1990s, Bangladesh Television was the only source of mass media available to the populace. They ran social awareness campaigns and advertisements, many of which were quite popular and have implanted themselves in the minds of those who grew up in that generation.
The ads depicted a familiar character in Bangladeshi culture, the kabiraj. A kabiraj is an herbal medicine practitioner who uses herbs and traditional medicine to cure ailments afflicting others.
As these ads ran on television screens, there was a rise in conventional agriculture and the cutting down of these trees in Bangladesh. This was to make space for conventional agricultural crops for food production.
However, in the years since, the pharmaceutical industry has begun to see immense value in restoring these herbal trees found in Bangladesh tree planting circles, combined with the common understanding of the value of these trees.
This has resulted in a veritable boom in Bangladesh tree planting for cultivating these healing herbs, with many choosing to replace their conventional crops in favor of the old herbal trees.
“If you don’t know them, the plants are just like a bush. If you know them, they are worth gold,” said Md. Abdul Wadud, deputy director of DAE Natore.
Among the pharmaceutical companies buying these raw materials for their medicines, those buying from Bangladesh are Square Pharmaceuticals, ACME, Taiwan Food Processing Industries Ltd., and Hamdard. Square mostly buys ashwagandha, while Taiwan Food buys aloe vera.
See also: Bangladesh Forest Conservation Bill of 2023.
This Can Be Done Elsewhere, Too
This new boom industry of medicinal herbs from Bangladesh tree planting is helping set up a renewable system of healing for everyday people and financially setting up Bangladeshi people for a livelihood they can rely on far into the future.
In the future, this model can also be replicated in other countries. Bangladesh tree planting could include a variety of different herbs. The country is rife with healing plants, some 722 species, and neighboring India, with a similar climate, is also.
India has approximately 4,000 other species of healing plants and the ability for mass export due to supply chains already well developed within the country. In the future, it is likely to see a revolution in returning the old to the new world.
Not only is it crucially important to restore our world’s ecosystems, but as shown in Bangladesh tree planting, if it’s in our best interest to do so, it’s a win-win in every sense of the word.