National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh
Located at Mirpur, alongside the Dhaka Zoo, the National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh occupies an area of more than 100 acres and is both a research center and a popular tourist attraction. The research team at the garden collects and documents plant specimens from all over the country, as well as from far-off locations. The garden, which is officially known as the Bangladesh National Herbarium, is categorized into fifty-seven sections and includes a cactus house, lily ponds, a lotus pond, six lakes, two nurseries, an orchid house, a tissue culture research center and comprehensive visitor facilities.
There are two lookout towers to allow staff and visitors a view of this magnificent garden which contains more than 56,000 species of shrubs, trees, herbs and aquatic plants. The birdlife in the garden is plentiful and, depending on the season, visitors are likely to see a wide range of migratory birds mingling with the locals. Rare and exotic species of plants that have successfully adapted to the garden include Rabbit fern (Davallia canariensis), Camphor (Cinamomum camphora), Harhjora (Vitis quadrangularis), Sambucuas (Sambucus nigra), Dambia (Dombeya spectabilis), and the magnificent Amazon lily (Victoria amazonica) which thrives on one of the lakes. The leaves of the Amazon lily can reach up to 3 meters in diameter and float on the surface of the water. Their enormous flowers are white when they first open, turning to pink on the following night. As the name suggests, the Amazon lily is native to the Amazon River basin in South America.
The National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh had rather a humble beginning when, at a UNESCO symposium on Scientific Problems of Humid Tropical Deltas which had been held in Dhaka in 1964, it was decided that a herbarium should be established in Dhaka. The proposal was put forward to the government of East Pakistan which was ruling the area at the time, and was eventually approved with a budget for five years and four staff members. Following the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the project was supported by the new government, but hit financial problems in 1973. However, the newly established Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) took over funding, with control passing to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1994. Visitors to the National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh will soon come to appreciate the efforts put in by Bangladeshi authorities and researchers to preserve the natural bounty of Bangladesh for current and future generations to enjoy.