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Bamboo and cane resource utilisation and conservation in the Apatani plateau, Arunachal Pradesh, India: implications for management

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The north-eastern states of India account for nearly 50 percent of the total bamboo resource of the country. Arunachal Pradesh State has more bamboo and cane diversity than any other state of India. There are over 26 major and 105 sub-tribes in the state and all of them possess huge indigenous knowledge about use and management of bamboo and canes, which are owned, protected and grown by the local people. This study (carried out in 1998-2000) has been focussed on the Apatani community of Arunachal Pradesh, which is famous for managing bamboo-plantations for several decades, and possesses a wealth of knowledge for using and managing bamboo and cane resources. The study reveals that a total of 9 bamboo and 3 cane species are being used for house construction, fencing, firewood, and for edible shoot purposes. Nearly 90% bamboo demand is met by just one species, Phyllostachys bambusoides, popularly known as bije bamboo that is maintained by each household in their gardens. Canes are collected either from the natural habitats or from the markets; therefore their plantations are highly desirable. The study explored the uses to which bamboo and cane are put. An absolutely new house requires 2500-3000 bamboo culms, and total annual requirement for the purpose was estimated at 391 400 culms in the study area. Furthermore 472 204 bamboo culms were recorded as used annually for fencing, while 112 681 culms were used for diversified craft works in the seven main rural settlements of the Apatani plateau. The total annual cane twine requirement was estimated at 7 464 716 m of Plectocomia himalayana (tarpi) and 73 975 m of Calamus acanthospathus (tasurr) for diverse purposes. The Apatani community has a rich natural resource base combined with the traditionally conservationist attitude which, if directed still further, can have a tremendous impact on the local resource development of the area. Once the economic potential of these resources is recognised, the bamboo and cane should receive due priority for planned development for the area. It is emphasised that a part of the total well managed bamboo resource should be diverted towards income generation, such as bamboo ply production and upgraded bamboo craft products with improved technologies to increase income to rural people. There is also a strong need for opening of a research centre and common facility centres at the district level, which would be able to carry out practical research and technology transfer in the use of bamboo related to its traditional status in the area.


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