Ranjan K Baruah
Rampant deforestation and felling of trees is a concern across the nation. Illegal felling is taking place unabated as there is money in it. One can make money, of course illegally, simply destroying the nature and natural resources! One of the resources is abundant but there was paradox with it. There was a debate till recently whether bamboo is a grass or a tree? When we were in schools, we were told that it is the fastest growing cum tallest grass. But the paradox was that the forest act mentioned it as tree. Once it is a timber product, one cannot cut it and there is lot of regulations to take it from place to place. But it has become official now after campaigning by different organisations and it is grass according to government officials too.
There is no doubt that bamboo is one of the alternate for the timber products as it’s very useful. Bamboo, a fast growing, versatile woody grass is found across the country. It is an economic resource having immense potential for improving the quality of life of rural and urban communities with environment regeneration qualities like carbon sequestering. Bamboo provides raw material for large industries like paper and pulp as well as for cottage and handicrafts industry. Some bamboo species can grow one metre in a day. Bamboo shoots are used in the preparation of vegetables and various other dishes and many other horticultural uses. It is grown like any other horticultural crop by tilling the land and is harvested annually, when grown commercially. Bamboo roots, leaves, sap and ash are being used since ancient times as a remedy for minor and major ailments, particularly in Ayurvedic health care.
Apart from others, bamboo has more connection in the north eastern region of the country. From making homes to many other things bamboo is integral part in one’s life. Bamboo shoots are found in most of the ethnic dishes here in north east. The world market for bamboo is valued at US $ 10 billion of which China’s share alone is to the tune of 50%. Market for bamboo expected to reach about US $ 20 billion by 2015. The size of the domestic bamboo industry is estimated to be about rs 6505 crore, which may grow to rs 26,000 crore by 2015.
There are innovations and new planning going on the use of bamboo. Recently bamboo coffins are also proposed and this might be in reality which will save timbers. Bamboo can be used and there are initiatives from government agencies and other agencies. It is time that concerned people promote the products or use them which will help in combating deforestation. There are many initiatives for popularising bamboo and its products.
World Bamboo Day is a day of celebration to increase the awareness of bamboo globally. Where bamboo grows naturally, bamboo has been a daily element, but its utilisation has not always been sustainable due to exploitation. The World Bamboo Organisation aims to bring the potential of bamboo to a more elevated exposure – to protect natural resources and the environment, to ensure sustainable utilisation, to promote new cultivation of bamboo for new industries in regions around the world, as well as promote traditional uses locally for community economic development. World Bamboo Day was declared by the Thai Royal Forest Department on September 18 in Bangkok, during the 8th World Bamboo Congress. This declaration is an effort to increase the awareness of bamboo globally.
For the protection of nature and reduce timber felling we can promote bamboo and its product. It also helps community in their livelihood and earning. Let’s do something for the earth and let’s promote bamboo and its product. We can encourage community to get associated with it and link them with expertise which shall bring many changes in the society. As northeast has this product so we can also plant bamboo, build with bamboo, sing with bamboo, wear bamboo, eat bamboo, walk among the bamboo, and feel good for us and for others. (With inputs from National Bamboo Mission)