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Bamboo and Us

Bamboo and Us

Bamboos botanically considered as a specialized group in the Grass
the family are fascinating for different reasons. To many Chinese,
Japanese, Indians and the peoples of Southeast Asia and South
America, bamboos are intricately linked to both culture and even survival,
since ancient times.

The many uses of bamboo range from handicrafts made ad hoc in village settings, such as personal ornaments, utensils and a most incredible variety of baskets and other containers, bird cages, poultry coops, musical instruments, to water pipes, bridges, house construction and fishing contraptions.

Bamboo scaffolding used during the construction of buildings, including high-rise structures, so evident in parts of India, Bangladesh and China, looks set to stay as a simple, inexpensive technology even in today’s world of modern innovations.

From bamboo blowpipes and small animal traps familiar to the more primitive technologies, the use of this material has graduated to modern factory-based production of paper, bamboo blinds and barbeque skewers. The living bamboo provides edible shoots, fences, windbreaks, ornamentals and a means to counter erosion in some situations.

To the botanist, the 1200–1500 species of bamboo the world over still
represent a diversity that is not well understood, with many species to be
discovered or better documented, and incomplete agreement as to how
the many forms are to be classified. The silviculturist and agronomist, whose job is to cultivate trees and bamboos profitably for economical products, are interested in their growth attributes, cultivation aspects and potential utilization.

Resource managers are interested in ensuring that rare forms are conserved and useful types of bamboo are better understood and made available for developing useful materials that can help people.

The forester is concerned about which bamboos occur where, and in what abundance, and whether these have potential usefulness or may become weedy in their growth, smothering other more useful plants. A recent perspective is a realization that living bamboo stems house interesting animal communities, including some with specific associations.

One thing is certainly agreed among those who are conscious about the
usefulness of bamboos. These very interesting and mostly useful plants can be better understood, more systematically documented and managed as a resource. It is important first to understand the fundamental attributes of these plants, so that this basic knowledge can help foster better identification, utilization and conservation of the many species.
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