Rohingya refugee flooding and changes of the physical and social landscape in Ukhiya, Bangladesh
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. Bangladesh has been dealing with one of the world’s largest refugee emergencies along its border with Myanmar (especially in the rough wooded zone of Ukhiya sub-district, Cox’s Bazar) due to a massive influx of Rohingya refugees, particularly since 25 August 2017. Resulting high impacts threaten the viability of local plantation as well as natural forests (societal and ecological assets). This research aims to evaluate the impact of the influx on the physical landscape in the Ukhiya sub-district as well as changes of socio-cultural landscape. The study was relied on both geo-spatial and survey data analysis. We argue that Rohingya flooding has a significant impact on changes of physical and socio-cultural landscape of the area in and around Rohingya camps. Results from the normalized difference vegetation index analysis identified that during 2015–2018 the forestry adjacent to the Kutupalong camps (Ukhiya sub-district) declined by 11.23 km2. Forestry cover fell from approximately 68.9% of all land to 2.72%; the decline representing about 15.2% of the entire forested area. Furthermore, the highest elevated area of Kutupalong camps (estimated to be 41 m) is likewise affected by anthropogenic activities, for instance, wholesale cutting into the slope, and street and stair construction which is gradually rising the potentiality of landslide and inland flood in several camps. Out of which 27.76% settlements, 0.35% and 9.61% settlements are at risk of landslide and flood, respectively, in the Kutupalong RC and Kutupalong extension campsite. A large proportion of Rohingyas also used wood for fuel; wood used originates from the adjacent forest and is the primary explanation for forestry consumption in Ukhiya sub-district. Its forests and elevation will never return to their original condition if the consumption of forestry assets proceeds unabated. It is argued, that these research findings may inspire locals, national, and global aid agencies to contribute to the introduction of forestry management and environmental protection.