With 33 species Bangladesh is the 8th richest nation in bamboo diversity; six more climate-tolerant species on cards
The deep and peaceful shade and the soothing sound of bamboo leaves amid the twittering of birds will certainly satisfy nature lovers. One will also be excited to see wide range of bamboo species with divergent shapes and sizes.
On the northwest side of Bangladesh Forest Research Institute (BFRI) in Chattogram's Sholashahar area is situated the 'Bamboo Shetam' or Bamboo Museum.
If you look at the five-acre museum, you will see a grove of bamboos touching the sky. The name of this species of bamboo is 'Bhudum' -- the tallest species, with an average height of over 130 feet.
There is another bamboo species which is 2 feet in girth. Besides, there are 'Ghoti' bamboos which look like a joint pitcher.
In the large BFRI museum, there are 33 species like these. All of them are distinct from each other in terms of their size and shape. Some of them are thick, some are with kink, while others are twisted. Some others are like an umbrella.
Six more climate-tolerant bamboo species are going to be added to its collection within 6 months. The names of the new species have not been fixed yet.
At the entrance of the museum, there is a signboard that contains the names of all 33 species of bamboos in the museum along with their scientific names and their whereabouts. While ascending the creek path of the museum there are hedge or 'Bera' bamboos for beautification.
Moving slightly forward, there are Ghoti bamboos which are 10-12 feet tall. You will see China bamboos beside them.
There is a nameplate in front of every species. When you enter the museum, you will see 'Kata', 'Ora', small-sized 'Mitinga', and 'Mithia' bamboos.
According to the global bamboo resource report published by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Bangladesh stands eighth in the world in terms of having bamboo varieties. China tops the list with 500 varieties.
Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman, the lead researcher at the silviculture department at the BFRI, said, "Apart from the 33 species, we are working on inventing 6 more species of bamboos. These bamboos are climate tolerant and suitable for our weather, which will protect us from hillslide, land erosion, and river corrosion."
He went on saying that bamboo is considered very essential in Japan in preventing river erosion and protecting flood embankments.
Besides preserving different species, this museum is used for managing bamboo groves, producing seedlings and preserving seeds. It is also used as a training centre.
Gene varieties of bamboo are preserved here because bamboo seedlings are not usually available. Seedling is produced through cuttings of bamboo stalks and tissue culture.
Bamboo is very useful in our life. It is used in making different daily necessary items. It can be produced anywhere. Researchers say bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the country. They grow 1.5 feet every 24 hours. They can grow 100 feet tall in just three months. Besides, bamboo intake carbon-di-oxide and bamboo groves can help prevent land erosion and river corrosion.
According to botanists, seven varieties of bamboo usually found in villages. 'Barak', 'Karjaba', 'Baijja', 'Talla', 'Makla' are the most common ones. The stems of these bamboos are wide and woody, which are suitable for making the fences and pillars of a house. Not only that, for building brick houses, bamboos are used for roof molding.
Apart from these, 10 lakh tonnes of green bamboos are used for different purposes across the country. Bamboo-made furniture is also available in the market. These types of furniture are beautiful and longer-lasting, and are exported abroad.
Which species is found where
Talla, Makla and Karjaba species of bamboo are mainly found in Sylhet region. Baijja grows in Chattogram, 'Barak' in Khulna and Jashore, and Bhudum bamboo is found in Mymensingh. Besides, 'Muli' bamboo is available all over the country including Chattogram and Chattogram Hill Tracts. It is used as a raw material for producing paper in Karnaphuli Paper Mill in Rangamati.
In 2010, a Chinese bamboo research institute collected seeds of local Muli bamboo. In exchange, they provided Chinese bamboo species.
Referring to the fact that bamboo is a fast-growing plant, BFRI Director Dr Khurshid Akhter said, "Bamboo cultivation it is a profitable business as one can start growing bamboo even with a small capital. Besides, bamboo can contribute to reducing the pressure on trees."