Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to take part in the opening ceremony of this workshop. First of all, I wish to personally thank the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), that have brought the participants from different countries together to discuss all related topics on bamboo.
As many of you I am sure would agree, bamboo may be the world's most useful plant, along with the rattan palm which is also very useful. Bamboo enriches the soil, gives man tools to work with, make musical instruments, toys etc. It provides for almost all aspects of our livelihood: food, accommodation, transportation, irrigation, construction materials and herbal medicine. For these reasons China's famous poet, Su Dongpo in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) said I could not stand one day without bamboo.
Besides its usefulness as material, bamboo has a close relationship with culture. Many aspects of China's culture, religion and language particularly indicate the unique and long-term partnership with bamboo. We Chinese people call bamboo the chief member of the trio of winter friends, bamboo, winter plum and pine. The three occur together throughout Chinese art and literature as symbols of resistance to hardship. We appreciate bamboo not only for its natural beauty but it also represents virtue, modestry and humility.
About such a versatile plant on earth, we, modern human beings, seem to lack sufficient knowledge about bamboo biology, from taxonomy to genetics, reproduction and ecology. Some species and varieties of bamboo are being threatened or even extinct before we have known about them because of over-harvesting and habitat destruction by man. The declined resources of bamboo, in fact, affect not only the lives of human beings but the survival of some relevant animals. Most Chinese people may remember that several years ago when most plants of bamboo flowered in Southwest Sichuan province, which led to a number of the rare giant panda dead from the shortage of their food.
Today, I am so happy to see that many people have shown their concern for the bamboo germplasm, and have taken all necessary measures for in situ and ex situ conservation of bamboo genetic resources. We do need to strengthen the scientific research on bamboo by involving multidisciplinary collaboration and also give most sincere respect to indigenous people and their knowledge. In this coming week, I hope you will have a fruitful discussion and exchange of views, and every participant will benefit from this workshop.
Thank you very much.
Professor Wu Zhengyi
Chinese Academy of Sciences