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Bamboo Training Course/Workshop

Summary report on training course cum workshop on bamboos - A.N. Rao

Kunming and Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
10-17 May 1998

Summary report on training course cum workshop on bamboos - A.N. Rao

Consultant, IPGRI-APO, Serdang, Malaysia


Assessing the status of bamboo diversity, genetic resources and establishing knowledge base for conservation and sustainable use of the resources are the important objectives of the programme carried out for the last three years by IPGRI-APO under INBAR-IPGRI collaboration programme. The plan of action for each year is set out by INBAR-IPGRI Biodiversity, Genetic Resources and Conservation Working Group.

One of the important activity identified was to conduct the training courses on bamboo and rattan to improve the human resource development and disseminate the information on recent researches on these two groups of plants. The training course on rattan was conducted in Sarawak and Sabah, East Malaysia, 14-26 April 1996. The proceedings were published. Following that course, a training course cum workshop meeting on bamboos was conducted on 10-17 May 98 in Kunming and Xishuangbanna of Yunnan province, China. The main reason for organizing this meeting in Yunnan was to explore the different bamboo species that usually grow in different geographical locations, under various ecological niche and to benefit from studying the large number of bamboo species maintained as ex situ conservation in the well known Xishuangbanna botanical garden. The participants selected from 11 Asian countries included some junior as well as senior scientists and some recognized experts in the field of bamboo research; hence the programme was both a training course for some and workshop for all present.

In response to our initiative to organize a week long programme, a number of individuals as well as institutions came forward to collaborate and extend their help including the following:

1. INBAR, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, Delhi, India
2. ICIMOD, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal
3. Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China
4. Southwest Forestry College (SWFC) of Yunnan University, Kunming and
5. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun.
The opening ceremony and 2-day programme was conducted in Kunming Institute of Botany, Kunming, 3-day programme (including field trips) in Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden, Menglun and the closing ceremony at Southwest Forestry College (SWFC) in Kunming. There will be too many to name those that helped us in conducting the programme. The organizers are deeply grateful to all the individuals, officials of various institutions and authorities who helped us in many ways to conduct the programme. Their support was the main strength for us to carry out the activity.

Saturday and Sunday, 9-10 May 1998

All the participants arrived in Kunming on these two days and housed at Longdu International Centre, beside Institute of Botany, Kunming.

Monday, 11 May 1998 Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was held in the Department of Ethnobotany, KIB. The ceremony started off with a brief introduction to the training course by Prof Pei Shengji; who chaired the session, followed by welcome address by Mr Zhang Zongwen of IPGRI, Beijing office. A message of congratulations was conveyed from Prof Jiang Zehui, President of Chinese Academy of Forestry and co-chairperson of INBAR, Beijing. Dr IVR Rao, Senior Scientist, INBAR, Delhi briefly reviewed the recent activities of INBAR and referred to the excellent cooperation and coordination existing between INBAR and IPGRI. Prof Wu Zhengji, Academician of Chinese Academy of Science and former Director of KIB extended his appreciation to the organizers for conducting the programme in Yunnan. Dr V. Ramanatha Rao of IPGRI-APO outlined the main objectives of the programme as well as explained why Yunnan was selected as the venue for the workshop and the various procedural details involved. Prof Hao Xiaojiang, Director of KIB, was delighted to welcome all the invitees and participants to the ceremony and extended full cooperation of KIB staff as well as other facilities needed to complete the programme. A vote of thanks was proposed by A.N. Rao thanking the dignitaries for their presence, support and encouragement and the various persons who helped to conduct the workshop in many different ways. Dr Paul Quek from IPGRI-APO attended the ceremony.

A set of recent publications on bamboo and rattan by IPGRI-APO was presented to Prof Hao, Director, KIB, by Dr V. Ramanatha Rao.

After the coffee break there was a group photo was taken.

The sessions

Session I was started at 10.30 am with Prof Pei in the chair.

Prof Xue Jiro, (SWFC) the well-known authority on bamboos and the senior scientist, outlined the bamboo resources in Yunnan, the uniqueness of some of the species and their habit. To meet the shortage in bamboo supply, improved methods of cultivation and harvest were suggested for implementation.

The next paper was on Taxonomy and Biogeography of the Bambuseae by Dr D.Z. Li of KIB. The relative importance of different vegetative and reproductive structures used by earlier taxonomists, the placement of various genera under different subtribes and distribution of bamboos in different geographical areas were outlined. Use of molecular technique to further classify taxonomic problems was also stressed. It was concluded that more work was needed in Asia to resolve many of the taxonomic problems.

Ecology and habitats of bamboos in Yunnan was the next paper presented by Wang Kanglin of KIB. Understanding the ecology of bamboo habitats is the first requirement for conservation and exploitation of bamboo resources. The distribution of temperate, sub-temperate and tropical bamboo species of Yunnan was briefly analysed with regard to the species composition as well as the extent of their geographical location.

After lunch, session 2 was started with A.N. Rao in the chair, in place of Prof Yang Yuming.

Bamboo germplasm conservation in Yunnan and the methods followed to establish them were outlined by Prof Hui Chao Mao of SWFC, Kunming. The high quality of local bamboo species, the diverse components in different habitats, seed collection and storage were also dealt with.

Advantages and disadvantages of polyclonal plantations were outlined by Dr IVR Rao, INBAR, Delhi. Some of the methods followed, species selected and productivity in different countries were outlined.

Distribution of some special bamboos in Gaoligongshan mountains in northwest Yunnan was described including the epiphytic species as well as the poisonous bamboo Cephalostachyum virulentum by Prof Xue Jia Rang (SWFC).

The session ended at 5.40 pm and in the evening a workshop dinner was organized.

Thursday, 12 May 1998

Session 3 started at 8.30 am with Dr R.L. Banik in the chair.

Dr Kochhar presented the paper on bamboo germplasm collection, sampling methods and characterization. Planning methods for germplasm collection, recognizing different types of bamboo population, characteristics of bamboos, population behaviour and notes on descriptors were the topics discussed.

After coffee break, session four was started with Dr D.Z. Li in the chair.

Prof Pei presented the paper on ethnobotany of bamboos in Yunnan. More than 100 bamboo species of 17 genera including several varieties have been used by the local people in Xishuangbanna. The Hani tribal people have their own bamboo classification system using culm colour, quality and the habit of various bamboos. The sustainable development, indigenous knowledge system and participating management were involved in different programmes.

Selection of superior bamboo varieties and propagation was the next paper by Dr Fu Maoyi. Criteria for selection, provenance, clones and propagation methods were outlined.

Strategies for collecting bamboo germplasm was the next paper by Dr V. Ramanatha Rao. After identifying the objectives of PGR collection, the prerequisite of collecting strategy, the number of samples to be collected, kinds of collecting mission, the target diversity and decision making process for sampling strategy were outlined. The participants were requested to comment on the details of the paper to improve the plans of action suggested.

After good discussion on various points presented earlier, the session ended at 12.30 pm.

After lunch the group reconvened for a continued general, open discussion on various points covered by the speakers in the earlier sessions. Dr Ramanatha Rao lead the discussion group and a number of definitions and points were clarified. The discussion ended at 3.30 pm.

The participants returned to Longdu International Centre and got ready for travel to Xishuangbanna and left for the airport at 4.30 pm.

The flight from Kunming to Jing Hong reached the destination around 8.10 pm (Flying time - one hour). After dinner in a local restaurant the whole group travelled by bus to Menglun at 9.40 pm reaching the Xishuangbanna botanical garden (XTBG) at 11.45 pm.

The accommodation had been reserved for the group at the guest house in the garden.

Wednesday, 13 May 1998

The meeting started at 9 am. The Director of XTBG Prof. Xu Zaifu welcomed the gathering and expressed his pleasure to greet the various participants from different countries. He mentioned about some of the administrative details of the garden and the financial resources obtained through ecotourism to maintain the garden. On an average, about 440 000 people visit the garden each year which brings considerable revenue that helps the upkeep and improvement of the garden. The Director was introduced to different participants.

The history, establishment of Xishuangbanna tropical botanical garden and the research activities in progress were presented by Ms Li Liming. The garden was established in 1959, occupying an area of 900 ha with 3000 plant species growing. The different sections include a palm garden, bamboo garden (with 80 species), orchid garden, an arboretum (1200 species) and ex situ conservation of rare and endangered plant species. More than 40 research scientists are working on Ecology, Agroforestry, Horticulture and Conservation of local biodiversity. There are two branch stations located at different places but attached to the garden and serving the needs of the local people.

A set of recent publications on bamboo and rattan by IPGRI-APO was presented to Prof Xu, Director of the garden by Dr V. Ramanatha Rao. He was delighted to receive the publications.

After refreshments the participants visited the bamboo garden. With much exchange of views, discussions and comments, more than 35 bamboo species were critically examined confirming their taxonomic identifications. Intraspecific variations were noted. Many of them were very big-sized bamboos including Dendrocalamus giganteus, Dendrocalamus sinicus and D. sikkimensis. The major differences between them were noted and their gigantic nature was appreciated. Attention was also paid to some of the rare and endemic species.

A brief visit was paid to the rattan collection (with teak as supporting tree), palm collection and the Indigenous Knowledge Centre. A museum has been set up in the garden showing the various plant utilization activities of different ethnic groups in Yunnan. Most of the participants wished they had more time to examine the other bamboo species in the garden.

Session 5 was started at 2 pm with Dr Biswas in the chair. Three country reports were presented, Dr Banik - Bangladesh, Dr Rungnapar - Thailand and Dr Fu Maoyi - China. Besides the details of country report Dr Fu Maoyi also included the details of bamboo processing, the annual economic gains made in bamboo wood, shoot and paper production in China. The targets set for additional planting in the next five year plan were explained.

Genetic diversity of woody bamboos - their conservation and improvement was the next paper by A.N. Rao. The present status of taxonomic knowledge, lack of precise details and information on bamboo resources (quantity and quality) in many of the Asian countries, suggestions to remedy the situation, the significance of polypoidy and chromosome numbers in identifying bamboo species and their superior varieties, important genetic traits, endemism, bamboo hybrids and conservation aspects were discussed.

After tea break, session 6 was convened with Ms Christina Roxas in the chair. The country reports from India - Dr Biswas, Indonesia - Dr Widjaja, Malaysia - Dr Azmy, Myanmar - Dr Nyun Htun and Nepal - Dr Shreshta were presented.

An interesting discussion followed on all the presentations and many clarifications were made, suggestions offered and questions answered.

The meeting ended at 7.30 pm.

Thursday, 14 May 1998

A whole day field trip was organized. In the morning a village with Dani community in Jino Mountain area was visited.

Jino mountain area includes several peaks reaching upto 1600 m, with primary forests. The Dani ethnominority community consists of about 12 000 people, living in 35 villages, scattered in about 30 km2 area. Most of their needs, up to 80%, are met by swidden cultivation, gathering forest products, cultivating certain fruit trees like litchi, mulberry, banana, pineapple, and others including tea, vegetables, and medicinal plants. The partly disturbed forest areas are also planted with tea, bamboo and rattan. The technology for rattan cultivation was passed on from Hani community, another ethnic group, living near Myanmar border, about 220 km from Jing Hong. They also supplied seeds of Calamus yunnanensis, grown in their locality, to Dani people and large quantities of seedlings raised, 1-2 year old seedlings, were ready for planting in the forest.

The collaboration between Dani and Hani ethnic communities was established by Ethnobotany Department of KIB, and funding for their mutually beneficial activities, was provided by McArthur foundation, Chicago, USA. Prof Chen of KIB is in charge of the programme.

The local tea, Camellia assamica var. yunnan is very famous, called Olong and Poer tea, rich in many amino acids. It is relatively more expensive and mostly sent to Shanghai, Hongkong and Singapore. The species grows as a tree but reduced in size by pruning to form big bushes. Some of the trees up to 4-8 m tall were seen growing with bamboos and rattans.

Swidden system of agriculture is practised by local people clearing the primary forest area and a 13-year cycle is followed to grow rice, tea and other plants. It is an integrated mountain agricultural system. Tephrosia Candida and Cassia siamea are commonly grown at the borders of cultivated fields to enrich the soil and to harvest the trees for fuel wood. Important bamboo species growing naturally included Dendrocalamus membranaceus, D. hamiltonii and D. giganteus. Most of the clumps were 20-30 m tall with huge culms. Some of the culms were partly cut open to raise certain types of worms, said to be a local delicacy collected during November - December months.

The participants appreciated the agroforestry system practised with dense bamboo groves, and natural vegetation surrounding. The tea processing factory of the village, and the nursery established for the benefit of all the villagers and the local community hall built out of bamboos were also visited. Various details about the system were discussed with Prof Pei and the village head.

After the visit the party returned to Menglun for lunch.

In the afternoon some of the natural bamboo forest regions were visited. The participants had a very good opportunity to examine some of the gigantic bamboo species, both wild and cultivated, Dendrocalamus membranaceus, D. giganteus, D. sinicus, D. yunnanensis, D. hamiltonii and others. The field trip ended at 5 pm.

In the evening it was suggested that each of the participant should identify two major areas of research important to their respective countries, to be presented and discussed on the following day.

Friday, 15 May 1998

The session 7 started at 8 am with Dr E. Widjaja in the chair.

The remaining country reports on Philippines - Dr Roxas, Sri Lanka - Mr Kariyawasam, Cambodia - Mr Mong and Vietnam - Ms Ngo were presented. Discussion followed examining and clarifying many points.

After the coffee break, Prof Pei Shengji gave a lecture on Rattan Resources: Management and Conservation in Yunnan. Genera, species and distribution of rattan resources in China were explained along with certain case studies of using the rattan by ethnic communities in Yunnan. Rattan used in swidden agroecosystems, indigenous technology transfer, conservation and replanting rattan in natural forests were explained. Species recognized for large-scale cultivation were listed to meet the increasing demand of rattan by local furniture industry. The annual rattan trade value in China at present is more than US$ 110 million, and rattan is imported to Yunnan from the neighbouring countries including Myanmar and Laos.

After the above presentations, the topics on research priorities suggested by various participants from different countries were summarized by Dr Ramanatha Rao. Most of the topics were related to the following areas:

1. Great need to conduct research to determine bamboo resources in each country.

2. Selection of superior plants for conservation, in situ and ex situ.

3. Ecological details and habitat studies, need for seed collection and exchange of germplasm materials

4. To fill up the gaps in species identification: there are many species in various countries yet to be properly identified.

5. To understand the extent and distribution of genetic diversity in bamboo populations.

The meeting ended at 1 pm.

After lunch the party left Menglun by road to Jing Hong to catch the evening flight to Kunming. The road from Menglun to Jing Hong is built following the course of the Mekong river which flows in the valley. The surrounding mountains contain bamboo forests, mostly Dendrocalamus membranaceus. The cleared mountain areas are used to cultivate rubber, pineapple, pine trees and other crops. More than 60% of the mountain areas are already cleared. Irrespective of the nature of vegetation, either forests or plantations, the scenery on the road is very picturesque with mountains, valleys and the Mekong river. Reached Kunming by 7.20 pm. Had dinner in the city before reaching Longdu Centre.

Regarding country reports

About 6 weeks before the meeting, certain suggestions were sent to all participants for preparing the country reports, the main objectives being: a) to obtain the essential information required from each country including the resources available, socioeconomic aspects and bamboo utilization b) to keep the reports within a balanced frame work and c) to identify the research needs.

Most of the reports have included 1. Area and habitats of bamboos 2. Genera and species available 3. Conservation status 4. Genetic improvement 5. Propagation methods 6. Extraction and sustainable utilization 7. Research in progress 8. Utilization and economic value and 9. Research and development needs.

Gaps were identified and details were filled wherever possible before finalizing the reports for publication.

Altogether 12 country reports were presented.

Saturday, 16 May 1998

The participants left Longdu to Southwest Forestry College around 8.30 am to attend the closing ceremony. They were all received by Prof Yong Yuming and others at forestry college. The closing ceremony started at 9.30 am with Prof Pei Shengji in the chair. Mr Yang Fu Cheng, President of the College, Prof Xu Jiru other staff members as well as many of the post graduate students attended the ceremony.

The chairman welcomed all the participants and the invitees to the assembly. He gave a brief summary of the activities conducted during the previous week.

Dr Ramanatha Rao presented a brief summary of the evaluation reports. Except for a report by one participant most of the others had favourably responded with appreciation for all the arrangements made to conduct the workshop as well as the deliberations that went on, over the last five days.

A brief review of the workshop programme was presented by A.N. Rao. The main objectives of organizing the workshop had been achieved. Some of the problems and inconveniences experienced could not be solved because of some of the problems including financial ones and the difficulties as well as uncertainties of schedules that the airlines were facing in the region. The course period could not be extended due to constraints in logistics and finances. He was happy that most, if not all the participants benefited by attending the workshop. He also observed that another four countries including Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Laos and Brunei could not participate due to many official reasons. He thanked all the participants for their cooperation and active participation in the workshop.

Dr Rungnapar from Thailand, thanked the organizers and expressed many favourable comments on behalf of all the participants. Her remarks were based on the discussion she had with other participants. Attending the workshop helped the participants to learn more about bamboos and to develop international contacts that may help in future work.

Mr Yang Fu Cheng, President of the college welcomed all the members and he was very pleased that the closing ceremony was arranged in SWFC and an opportunity was also created for many of the staff members to participate in the programmes and to inform the gathering about some of the unique bamboo species in Yunnan and their peerless characters. He and his staff were happy to have made new contacts with many bamboo researchers from other Asian countries.

A set of recent publications on bamboo and rattan published by IPGRI-APO was presented to the president Mr Yang, by Dr Ramanatha Rao. In turn a set of publications of the college was presented to Dr Ramanatha Rao who received them on behalf of IPGRI-APO.

The Chairman, Prof Pei invited other participants to offer their comments and remarks. Participants from Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Nepal remarked and were grateful to the organizers to have created this unique opportunity to learn about bamboos in southwest China as well as to meet the various researchers from different countries.

Prof Fu Maoyi, from China said that it was an excellent opportunity for him to attend the workshop in Yunnan and see many species growing for the first time as well as to learn the enormous quantity of knowledge gained and published by research workers in Kunming.

The Chairman requested Prof Xue Jiru to present the certificates to the various participants.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Prof. Pei to the authorities of IPGRI, ICIMOD, INBAR, various institutions and individuals concerned that helped to organize the workshop during the week. He also hoped that there would be many more opportunities of similar nature in future to discuss about bamboo and rattan as well as other topics connected with the unique biodiversity of Asian countries.

The chairman declared the workshop closed.

After taking the group photograph, the participants visited the bamboo museum in the college. The various items on display included the literature published on bamboos in Yunnan, dry specimens of biggest culms of various species, herbarium sheets, ethnobotanical details as well as the other handicraft articles.

The college also maintains a living bamboo collection including some unique species of local genera like Fargesia, Yushania and others. Many of them were introduced to the USA since they are the preferred fodder of Pandas. Prof Xu was invited few times by bamboo growers in California to advise them about the cultivation of these unique bamboos and to deliver lectures on bamboos in Yunnan. The details of living collection of these two genera in the bambusetum were explained by Prof Xu Jiru and other colleagues in the institute.

A very sumptuous lunch was served to go with the closing ceremony. After lunch the participants went for shopping and sight seeing returning to Long Du Centre around 8 pm.

Sunday, 17 May 1998

Most of the participants left during the day to their respective countries via Bangkok, Hongkong or Singapore. Dr Fu Maoyi had to over stay for two days since the airlines were fully booked to Hongzhou.

A.N. Rao

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