Man and environment: An ecological history of Sundarbans
The Sundarbans is the largest mangrove wetland in the world. The Sundarbans, one of the largest delta in the estuarine phase of the river Ganga, is an unique bio-climatic zone on a tropical geographical situation in the coastal Bay of Bengal. The earliest reference to this land can be traced back to the epic Mahabharata where the eldest and second Pandava brother Yudhistir and Bhima visited Gangasagar during their pilgrimage. Vayu Puran refers to the flourishing trade and commerce in the region. Ecology is science of relatively recent origin. The dictionaries date the first use of this word in English to the year 1873. It is derived from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning ‘house’. German biologist E.H Haeckel (1879) gave a concise definition of ecology. Ecological history meaning study of nature. One must understand that the Sundarbans is an example of an endangered ecological system that is highly populated and both fragile and economically valuable. Thus there is an urgent need to know its history of settlement. Different authors tried to draw different conclusive ideas about the nature of settlements in the Sundarbans from studies of various sites of settlements excavated. The present introduction sets for the background of present research work, which is an attempt to understand the Man and Environment: An Ecological History of Sundarbans.