The drying and decaying of bamboo clumps in the forests of Kodagu, thanks to the gregarious flowering that would come about once in 40 to 44 years, is indeed a cause for concern. Bamboo clumps will die after flowering. Non-removal of the clumps could result in huge loss to the State Government and their removal could adversely affect the prospects of elephant fodder. A balance needs to be struck.
Bamboo plays a vital role in the socio-economic life of people in rural areas and in cottage industries in the State. It is the chief raw material for paper industry. In Kodagu, the last gregarious flowering of bamboo in the Thithimathi range forests, adjoining the Nagarahole National Park, occurred in 1965-66, while in the Makutta and Mundrote ranges in 1974, according to information in the Working Plan for Virajpet Forest Division.
Bambusa Arundinaceae species of bamboo is found prominently along the streams and valleys, while Dendrocalamus Strictus is seen in the dry areas of Kodagu. Dendrocalamus Brandisii (Burma bamboo) introduced in the past too have come up well. Bamboo was mainly used by artisans and the Medar community in Kodagu and Mysore in the past. The last gregarious flowering of bamboo in the Madikeri Forest Division is said to have occurred in 1972.
The Assistant Conservator of Forests, Somwarpet (in Madikeri Division), suggested to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Madikeri, in March last year that 91,214 clumps could be removed from the Kushalnagar range and 3,337 from the Somwarpet range. He had also pointed out that dead bamboo could be given to certain organisations in lieu of some grants or tender invited to sell them to paper industry.
Dead bamboo clumps could aid forest fires, especially in view of summer. Forest fires are common every year in the wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests in Kodagu and dead bamboo could pose potential danger. The Forest Department too is seized of the matter. Deputy Conservator of Forests (Madikeri Division) K.S. Anand told The Hindu that the Government had ordered removal of dead bamboo, entrusting it to the Karnataka State Forest Industrial Corporation (KSFIC). The KSFIC team was yet to arrive here. Over 600 tonnes of bamboo was available in Madikeri Division and more in Virajpet Division, Mr. Anand said.
Forest Minister C.H. Vijayashankar, who was here recently, said the Government had passed an order to remove dead bamboo without causing harm to the green clumps. He had also instructed the forest staff and officials to collect bamboo seeds after flowering so that they could be used for regeneration.
The Conservator of Forests, Kodagu, wrote to the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Resources and Management) on October 28 last seeking permission to remove the dead bamboo from the forests in Kodagu.
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