& Environment Department
Government of Meghalaya
is an important resource in our socio-economic and cultural context. It is
fast growing, widespread, renewable, versatile and environment-enhancing
resource. Apart from its traditional uses, bamboo has various new
applications as an alternative to rapidly depleting wood resources and as
an option to many expensive construction and furnishing materials.
Bamboo stands as an ideal species capable of achieving conservation of soil and moisture, restoration of degraded land, livelihood and economic security because of its manifold uses and industrial applications. Bamboo deserves to be developed as an economic and environment resource. To achieve this, policy initiatives are required in all inter-related fields of plantation, research & extension, technology, industry, trade and financing.
Meghalaya is richly endowed with the bamboo forests. Its abundance and multiple uses have led bamboo to play a pivotal role in the socio-economic and cultural life of the tribal people of the state. It finds varied uses like construction material, in making of diverse implements for agriculture, fishing and cattle rearing and the simple household items like utensils small furniture etc. Livelihood of significant population in the state is dependent on the handicrafts made of bamboo.
forests in the state have diverse species base which include clump forming
as well as non-clump forming types. It has been reported that 36 species
of bamboo from 14 genera are found in Meghalaya ( Biswas, 1988). The
important clump forming species include Dendrocalamus strictus,
Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Bambusa arundinacea, Bambusa pallida,
Bambusa tulda, whereas Melocanna bambusoides is the important
non-clump forming species.
of natural bamboo forests in Meghalaya has been estimated to be 3108 sq
kilometers (FSI Inventory Report,1990), which is about 14 % of the total
geographical area of the state. It has been estimated that the bamboo
forest in the state bears 471 million equivalent of sound culms of bamboo.
The weight of this Bamboo stock has been estimated to be 2.6 million
tonnes. Considering felling cycle of 4 years, the potential yield of
bamboo in the state is 2.09 tonnes/ha/year .
& Utilization : Current Status
forests of the state are largely under the control of Autonomous District
Councils (ADC). These forests are subjected to very little or no
scientific management. In the government controlled reserved and protected
forests, which constitutes about 4.4% of the total geographical area,
bamboo generally occurs as associate of tree species. Regular harvesting
of bamboo has not been prescribed in the working plans of the reserved and
of bamboo mostly comes from the areas owned by the communities which are
under the administrative control of ADCs. Large part of the bamboo comes
from the abandoned ‘jhum’ areas where it grows in gregarious manner as
colonizer. People harvest bamboo from the areas belonging to their
respective communities. The harvested bamboo is used for the following
above activities falling in un-organised sector, no statistics to indicate
quantum of material or its value in monetary terms is available. There are
four bamboo based industrial units in the state viz Meghalaya Bamboo Chips
Limited, Meghalaya Plywood Limited, Timpak Pvt Limited and M/S Roka Cane and Bamboo Works.
of Bamboo Forests & Growing Stock
Inventory of Bamboo resource for the entire state has not been undertaken so far by the State Forest Department. The only information about the extent of bamboo forests and growing stock is available from the Forest Survey of India’s report, which is based on the field survey carried out in 1987. Summary of bamboo inventory as per this report is summarized below.
Melocanna baccifera is the predominant and gregariously occurring non-clump forming bamboo in the State.
Gregarious Flowering of Muli Bamboo
The impending gregarious flowering of Melocanna baccifera in large tract of the state calls for urgent and concerted action under a plan, which addresses the issues of mitigation of hazards associated with the gregarious flowering, extraction and utilization of the maximum quantity of bamboo and regeneration of the area. The gregarious flowering is expected to take place during 2004-06.
Gregarious flowering (masting) may be defined as simultaneous flowering in all the culms in clump and all the clumps in a population of a particular species spread over a large geographical area, usually followed by death of clumps. It usually occurs periodically, period remaining constant for a species in a specific area. The flowering of bamboo is a unique phenomenon, which is not yet well understood. On the basis of the flowering behaviour, Brandis (1906) categorized bamboos in three major groups :
Most of the commercially important bamboo species belong to the first category i.e. those, which flower periodically in gregarious manner. They grow for decades and reproduce vegetatively and at the end of a definite period flowering starts synchronously in all the daughter clumps originated from one parent clump even if they are widely separated geographically. Patches of such geographically separated bamboo forests which have same parental origin (may be several generations earlier) are called ‘cohorts’. In majority of the bamboo species, the flowered bamboo clumps die after seed setting. Gregarious flowering generally progresses from one end of forest to the other in waves. In a period of 2 to 3 years, the entire forest area would have flowered and all the bamboo clumps would be dead.
The majority of bamboo species flower after long intervals and require careful management for its proper regeneration e.g. Melocanna baccifera (Muli Bamboo) is estimated to flower every 44-46 years. The last recorded gregarious flowering of Muli bamboo in parts of North Eastern region was in the year 1958-59.
The exact physiological mechanism of bamboo flowering is yet not known precisely. Different evolutionary hypothesis are put forward to explain bamboo flowering. They are (i) Parental competition hypothesis – Bamboos form extensive continuous stands with very little canopy gaps. When flowering and seeding occurs competition from parent clumps will be very high for development of seedling. Hence the evolutionary trend is the death of parent clumps giving space to the offspring. (ii) Consumer satiation hypothesis – very large numbers of seed predators are reported for bamboos and this hypothesis suggests that bamboo produces large quantity of seeds, storage of food reserves takes long time. (iii) Climatic periodicity hypothesis- Bamboo flowering is associated with climatic factors like drought. All these hypotheses remain controversial. But it is a fact that there is a periodicity for flowering that is species specific.
Threat & Opportunities
Action Plan for Management of Gregarious Flowering of Muli Bamboo
Extraction of Muli Bamboo
Aptions for Disposal / Utilization
Under the collaboration with NMBA, trial for bamboo based charcoal production has been undertaken for which battery of kilns was erected.
Bamboo Species of Meghalaya