Thousands of Bangladeshis will march from the country’s capital, Dhaka, to the world’s biggest mangrove forest next week in protest at plans to build two coal-power plants on the edge of the World Heritage-listed forest.

The organisers of the so-called long march on 10 March hope to persuade the Bangladeshi government to drop its backing for construction of the plants near the Sundarbans, an area of rice paddies, shrimp farms and vast mangrove forests.

“No sensible person will deny that there are many alternative ways for electricity generation,” said Anu Muhammad an economist with Jahangirnagar University, and head of the march organisers, the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports. “But there is no alternative for [the] Sundarbans.”

Both the proposed 1,320 MW Rampal coal plant and the 565 MW Orion coal plant will sit within 14km of the Sundarbans, a 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) forest listed as both a Unesco World Heritage site and a Ramsar-protected wetland. The great forest is split between Bangladesh and India, but the bulk of its lies in the former. Read more: