Sefali: Dreaming of Trees in the SundarbansSefali, Sundarban Islands

Sefali is a 15-year old girl living on Maipith Island, a small island in the Sundarban archipelago that extends from Eastern India into Bangladesh. The Sundarban Islands are home to the world’s largest mangrove forests, but these forests – and over 4 million people who depend on them – are under threat from rising sea levels.

According to a World Bank report the area could witness a 3 to 8mm rise in sea levels per year, which would leave many of these low-lying islands submerged and expose others to increased storms, erosion, and soil salinity. The mangrove forests provide a natural barrier between the islands and the ocean, as well as create habitat for the fisheries that so many islanders depend on.

Due to population increase, vast swaths of mangrove forests have been cleared. Sefali is an active member of Green Rhinos, a Kolkata based non-profit that mentors local youth to become environmental leaders. Sefali has made it her life goal to plant 35,000 mangroves around her island of Maipith, and hopes to inspire others to do the same and thus protect her community from storms such as Hurricane Aila which devastated the region in 2009.

Professor Elizabeth Miller from Concordia University and I travelled to the Sundarban Islands in December, 2014 to film this and other profiles for The Shoreline Project.

 

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