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Over the last five years much ground has been covered promoting research on Biodiversity, Genetic Resources and Conservation of bamboos in several Asian countries. The topic of conservation is a broad one and to solve the problems involved both traditional and biotechnological methods need to be employed which require the help of well trained researchers; multidisciplinary approach is most suitable and needed. The state of knowledge on bamboos is very varied at present in many countries. Taxonomic problems are there in all countries, whether they refer to a small or a large number of species. There are many species yet to be properly identified. Documentation and authentic published literature on bamboos are available for a few countries while many others do not have any data regarding species or resources available in them. Nevertheless, bamboos are very popular in most Asian countries with traditional and cultural values, and resources are being fast depleted. Up to 90% of the materials presently used are obtained from within the natural forests. Efforts made to replenish or replant are very few in most countries.

Bamboo genetic resources available till last year were recorded and published in 1998 for five Asian countries and it is planned to record similar details for ten others in the near future under Bamboo and Rattan research projects managed by IPGRI-APO.

Some of the critical limitations to conduct appropriate research in each of the bamboo growing country includes the lack of trained scientific personnel, who are familiar with local species and problems. Suitable researchers are no doubt present in many countries working in forest research institutes but their main lines of work and emphasis is on timber tree species and usually bamboos receive only marginal attention since they are included under non-wood minor forest products. Many international institutions are attempting to correct this situation of uneven interest with specific objectives and to devote more attention on bamboo and rattan which are important forest resources in APO.

To augment and moderate the situation, a training course cum workshop on Bamboo Taxonomy, Ecology, Silviculture, Conservation and Genetic Improvement was conducted in Kunming and Xishuangbanna in Yunnan, China from 10-17 May, 1998. It was an important event in which both senior and junior bamboo researchers met and worked together for 7 days. There were 30 participants from eleven countries. The selection and appropriateness of the venue to conduct the meeting are discussed in various articles included in this volume. Besides enriching the fellowship, many technical problems were tabled and well discussed to reach suitable solutions applicable or useful to different countries along with some very useful ideas on future research needs.

It is believed that the contacts made between researchers would help them to nurture close working relationship in future to promote progress in research on bamboos. We hope that the view points, analyses of various problems and research results included in this volume will serve as a valuable source of reference for many years to come to all those interested in bamboo improvement, conservation and their sustainable use to achieve greater economic benefits that would help the rural people in different countries.

Cherla B. Sastry
Director General

Kenneth W. Riley
Regional Director

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