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Bangladesh Forest Research Institute (BFRI) national institute of forestry and forest product research. It was established as the East Pakistan Forest Research Laboratory (EPRL) in 1955 with the technical assistance of the US Agency for International Development. Its initial objective was the utilization of forest produces available in the forests of East Pakistan. Later, the need for forest management research was felt due to a rapid decline in stock density in the forestland. Consequently, the Forest Management Branch was created in 1968 with the assistance of FAO/UNDP, and EPRL was reorganised as a forest research institute to make it a full-fledged forest research organisation. It was renamed as the Bangladesh Forest Research Institute. It is a government organisation under the Ministry of Environment and Forest, and is located at Sholashahar, Chittagong.

The major objectives of the institute are to optimize productivity in hills, plains, villages and coastal forests through the application of technology and to alleviate poverty; provide research backup to forestry and agroforestry in waste and marginal land for optimum and sustainable utilization; rational utilization of forest produces through the application of technology; help in conservation of biodiversity and environmental balance in national and rural forests.

The director is the executive head of the institute. BFRI conducts applied and adaptive research through 17 research divisions under two branches, viz Forest Management Branch and Forest Products Branch. The Forest Management Branch comprises 11 research divisions, viz, Silviculture Research, Silviculture Genetics, Mangrove Silviculture, Plantation Trial Unit, Forest Economics, Seed Orchard, Forest Inventory, Soil Science, Forest Protection, and Minor Forest Products. There are 21 research stations in different parts of the country based on dendroecological conditions. The Forest Products Branch includes research divisions, namely woodworking and timber engineering, seasoning and timber physics, wood preservation, pulp and paper, veneer and composite wood products and forest chemistry. Two general divisions, viz administration and service engineering, provide the support services of the institute. An advisory board consisting of 11 members of related disciplines headed by the secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forest offers policy guidelines in respect of research and other affairs. About 70 researchers and 650 supporting officers and staff are now working in the institute.

The major research programmes of the institute include: tree improvement for sustained productivity; establishment of clonal and seedling seed orchards and seed stands; development of micro-propagation techniques; development of nursery, plantation, and silvicultural system of hill, plain and mangrove forests; socio-economic studies of plantation and village forestry and wood based industries; development of an integrated pest management system for forests and nurseries; ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation; wildlife management research; optimization of wood use for industrial and other purposes, wood seasoning for improving timber quality; increasing the durability of forest products using preservatives; industrial use of waste wood; development of improved methods for pulp production and production of import substitute pulp from indigenous raw materials; extension, training and advisory services.

BFRI has developed noteworthy technologies and generated useful information regarding forest management and utilization of forest resources. Notable among them are: simple technique for propagation of bamboo; technique for the enhancement of service life of rural housing materials; propagation of forest tree species and tissue culture of bamboo; seasoning of timber using solar energy: a simple, inexpensive and effective solar kiln has been developed for seasoning timber using solar radiation; non-conventional timber for railway sleepers; the major insect pest and diseases in nurseries and plantations have been identified and control measures suggested. These measures can be applied in nursery management; utilization of wood waste; a technique has been developed for the utilization of wood waste for making novelty items, panel products and particleboard. This will not only save resources from wastes, but also keep the environment clean.

The institute publishes a half-yearly journal, the Bangladesh Journal of Forest Science. It also holds seminars, symposia and workshops; and conducts training courses on the propagation of bamboo, nursery techniques, improved productivity of man-made forests, land capability assessment for site specific selection, wood identification, wood preservation, wood seasoning, wood technology, etc. BFRI offers consultative advice and technical services to different organisations related to forest productions, management and utilizations.

The institute has an administrative building and two laboratory/office buildings in its headquarters at Chittagong city on 75 acres of land. About 3,500 acres of land with laboratory, office and residential facilities are available in the field stations.

BFRI has a library containing more than 12,000 books on forestry and related subjects. The herbarium has more than 16,000 collections; the arboretum with more than 100 indigenous and exotic tree species. [MA Sattar]

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