Bamboo in Nepal: A Management Guide
I would like to thank Mr. Peter J. Storey, former leader of the United Mission to Nepal’s Horticulture Agronomy Support Programme, Tansen, for his help and advice in producing this management Guide.
Preliminary analysis of a countrywide household survey by the Community Forestry Development Project indicates that bothhouseholders and community leaders have a consistent interest in bamboo. Bamboos have been selected by this Project as priority species requiring particular attention. This interest is centred largely on the use of bamboos as a fodder source, especially in the Terai where it is ranked third in preference. The survey identified an interest in bamboo as a fuel source in the east, and showed itsimportance for minor products in eastern, central and western regions. Small genera Arundinaria [local name: Nigalo] are shown to be particularly important in the mid-west and far-west regions (Lamichhaney, 1988). Planting large bamboos in the past has been severely restricted by lack of knowledge concerning satisfactory vegetative propagation techniques as well as the distribution, uses and siterequirements of Nepalese species. Bamboos provide a large proportion of renewable material for building, paper, animal fodder, vegetable and cottage industries in many areas of the Terai and middle hills (Lamichhaney, 1988).
2. SITE & SPECIES CHOICE
2.1 Site Choice
Bamboo is particularly useful in preventing soil erosion, as the interlocking rhizomes keep saturated topsoil firmly in place. Planting onsteep hillsides and river banks can reduce damage during floods, landslides and earthquakes. Clumps conserve soil moisture and protect an area from drought (Tewari, 1988). Being light-demanding species bamboos should be planted away from the shade of trees (Sharma, 1988). Bamboos should not be planted above the frost line (Stapleton, 1987).
2.2 Choice of Species
For detailed site requirementsof Bamboo species in Palpa District see Heyer (1987), pp. 46-49.
For a list of Nepali bamboo species and uses see Appendix I.
2.3 Species Mixture
Using large numbers of only one or two bamboo species is unwise, because of their synchronised flowering habit. Once a flowering has occurred the clumps become weak or die, and there follow several years of poor or nil production of harvestablebamboos. Large scale flowering is also responsible for increased rodent populations and hence cereal crop losses (Janzen, 1976). Instead, a number of species should be used.
3. PREPARATION OF PLANTING STOCK
The most common method of propagation is by the use of rhizome cuttings, as seed supply is erratic. However, rhizome cuttings weigh 40 kg on average (Stapleton, 1987), and so areimpractical for planting-up large areas. Culm cuttings are much lighter, weighing about 0.5 kg (Storey, 1981; Stapleton, 198b). The removal of large numbers of rhizomes can severely damage the parent clump (Khan, 1972). The average clump may provide about 5 rhizome cuttings each year without loss of vigour or productivity (Stapleton, 1985b). This has been the traditional method in Nepal for hundreds ofyears (Stapleton, 1987). Cuttings flower at the same time as the parent clump, so all may be lost within a few years of planting (Bahadur et al, 1980), although this is probably less of a risk than previously thought (Storey, 1988a).
3.1 Seed Collection
While most species of bamboos flower at long intervals, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii (Local Name: Tama bans) is more sporadic, a flowering clump ofthis species can be found in most areas at any time. When there are a few flowering plants within pollination distance seed is produced (Stapleton, 1987). There seems little variation within species that cannot be accounted for by differences in site conditions, though as with any seed, there will be differences in vigour (Storey, 1988). Flowering season: Bamboos can flower throughout the year....
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