Bangladesh has a total land surface of 12.31 million hectares, of which presently 7.85 million hectares are under agriculture (BARC 2001). It accommodates more than 152.25 million people (BBS 2012). This amounts to an average of 27 percentile of land and 17 percentile of cultivable land per head. Moreover, due to population growth, this share of land per capita is shrinking every year making the resource base for agriculture, forest and wetlands more vulnerable and marginalized. For example, in 1983-84, there was 20.0 million acres of total cultivable land, which dropped to 17.5 million acres in 1997. On an average we are losing nearly 82,000 ha of land in each year (roughly 220 ha in every day). If this situation continues, it is assumed that the present per capita arable land of about 17 decimal will be reduced to below 6 decimal in 2050 which is an alarming issue for our food security. This is mainly due to conversion of agricultural land into urban, peri-urban, industrial uses, and construction of roads, embankment. Competition between forest and agriculture, fisheries and agriculture are also responsible for some conversions of valuable lands to other uses.
There are many driving forces compelling people in Bangladesh to over-exploit the natural resources like land. The main ones are the poverty with rapid population growth, improper land use and ineffective implementation of existing laws and guidelines. Unplanned agricultural practices, and encroachment on forest areas for agriculture and settlements, also put pressure on scarce land resources. Unplanned rural infrastructure development and the growing demands of increasing urbanization are also devouring productive agricultural land.
Competition for diverse uses of land resources, the tremendous increase of population, natural and man-made hazards, economic opportunities and ecological hot spots call for distinctive and sustainable land management arrangements through the development of Land Use Based Zoning in the country. The Government of Bangladesh realizes this need, and formulates more policies, strategies (including the interim strategy for poverty reduction) and planning documents making special reference to different land issues and its integrated management.
The National Land Use Policy 2001of the Ministry of Land is one of the main policies of the government that has highlighted the need, the importance and modalities of National Land Zoning for integrated planning and sustainable management of land resources of the country. Many other policies, strategies, plans of the government have recommended Land Zoning since long.