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Bamboo resources conservation and utilization in Malaysia - Azmy Hj. Mohamed and S. Appanah

FRIM, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Introduction

Peninsular Malaysia has a total land area of 32.86 million hectares on approximately 330 000 km2. The size is similar to Norway. About 72% of land includes forests of about 19.4 million hectares and tree plantations of 4.2 million hectares. In the country, the permanent forest reserve area is 14.1 million hectares. The area designated as protected forest amounts to about 2.9 million hectares, with no logging whatsoever and it would remain in pristine condition without any disturbance. About 330 000 hectares of the Protection Forest plus another 1.8 million hectares of forest outside of it constitute national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves. Approximately 11.2 million hectares of the Permanent Forest Reserve are earmarked as Production Forest (Fig. 1). Areas within the Production Forest are commercially logged on a rotational cycle, supporting sustained-yield management.

Malaysia consists of Tropical Evergreen Forest with upper montane forest at the topmost level that occupies a few peaks which tower over 1700 m. The montane forest extends from 800 m to about 1700 m above sea level. The hill forest occupies between 300 to 800 m on the inland Malaysian mountain ranges where many lowland species, including numerous dipterocarp species are found. The vegetation in lowland forest is influenced by sunlight, wind and other elements. It is the most abundant from lower exposed ridges to higher sheltered valleys, the abundance of dipterocarp species gives these forests the name hill dipterocarp forest. The lowland dipterocarp forest covers the elevation of 300 m above sea-level, with many species densely crowded together (Anon 1992). The temperature ranges from 26°C-34°C and annual rainfall between 400 mm-1600 mm throughout the country.

Malaysia is a heavily forested country, and forest products including bamboo are important sources of income. While bamboo has been an important resource, widely and easily available, it has remained a poor man's crop compared to timber and other non-timber crops like rattan. However, the potential for growth of the bamboo industry is tremendous. This has been recognized by researchers. In the last decade or so, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) has given very high priority for bamboo development, both in terms of growth and the manufacturing aspects. The production and industrial development that has taken place for bamboo in Malaysia is reviewed, and the important research areas, as well as the other sectoral issues that need to be addressed before the industry can improve in the region are highlighted.

Area and habitats

Bamboos are abundant and widely distributed in Malaysia. Most of Malaysian bamboos grow gregariously, but in localized patches on river banks, in disturbed lowland forests, and on hillsides and ridge tops (Ng and Noor 1980; Wong 1989; Azmy 1991b). The populations are pure stands as well as mixed with other species in the forest. In general, bamboos were regarded as weeds in the context of Malaysian Forestry (Watson and Wyatt-Smith 1961; Chin 1977). Nevertheless, at present, it is ranked second to rattan in economic importance in Peninsular Malaysia among the minor or non-timber forest products (Aminuddin and Abd. Latiff 1991).

In 1970, the estimated total area of bamboos in Peninsular Malaysia was about 20 000 ha (McGrath 1970), and now the area has increased to about 329 000 ha (Abd. Razak and Abdul Latif 1988). The present standing stock has been estimated at 7.0 million tons (average 20 tons/ha), out of which only 6000 tons are of commonly used species with an estimated value of RM 3 million1. There has never been a complete inventory of bamboo resources in Malaysia (Salleh and Wong 1987). The Second National Forest Inventory (NFI II- 1981/82) showed that the average number of bamboo cuttings (6 m/ cutting with more than, 3 cm in diameter at breast height) extracted per ton basis was about 95.5 and 118.3 pieces from the undisturned and disturbed forests, respectively. From these figures, it was estimated that there were 587 million culms of bamboo in the forests (Kamaruzaman 1992).

1 IUS$ = RM3.8
Based on Table 1, the Kelantan has the highest density of bamboo within forest districts in Peninsular Malaysia, comprising of 31035 750 number of culms, followed by Pahang (23 480 760 culms), and Perak (20 174 160 culms). The total number of culms in Peninsular Malaysia was 110 584 148 covering 42 172 238 ha of forest areas (Lockman et al. 1992). The most useful bamboo found in these areas is Gigantochloa scortechinii, found in Kedah, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor and Terengganu. In terms of density, the richest area is in Selangor where 20% of having more than 20 clumps per ha, 13% with 11 to 20 clumps per ha and the rest with less than 11 clumps per ha (Lockman et al. 1992). In one study, 3780 culms of G. scortechinii were obtained from 204 clumps per ha (Azmy 1991b), (Figs. 1, 2)

Genera and species

Malaysia has about 70 species of bamboo: 50 in Peninsular Malaysia, 30 in Sabah and 20 in Sarawak (Wong 1989). The 10 available genera are Bambusa, Chusquea, Dendrocalamus, Dinochloa, Gigantochloa, Phyllostachys, Racemobambos, Schizostachyum, Thyrsostachys and Yushania (Wong 1989; Azmy and Abd. Razak 1991). There are 12 bamboo species commonly exploited for commercial purposes (Azmy and Abd. Razak 1991) (Table 2). The most common species extracted are Gigantochloa scortechinii, G. levis, G. ligulata, Dendrocalamus asper, Bambusa blumeana, Schizostachyum grande and S. zollingeri. (Figs. 3, 4).

Malaysian bamboos grow wild in the forests and also cultivated by villagers in rural areas (Azmy 1992a). The most widespread species are: Gigantochloa scortechinii, Dendrocalamus pendulus and Schizostachyum zollingeri; found from the Main Range from Pattani in Thailand to Malacca on the southwest coast, up to about 1200 m altitude, more abundant at lower elevations (Fig. 2). Bambusa farinacea, G. ligulata and G. latifolia are also encountered up to about 750 m on the Main Range although they are best represented in the northern states of Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan.

The rare bamboo, Schizostachyum terminale was collected at Krau Game Reserve in Pahang in 1988, adapted to swampy and inundated conditions. Another rare species is Gigantochloa rostrata, planted in FRIM, Kepong, and in the natural state at Gunung Raya, Langkawi. The endemic lowland bamboo Racemobambos setifera is rare or extinct outside the upper Endau River area and does not occur in southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Another rare lowland species is Soejatmia ridleyi from a collection from Bukit Timah forest in Singapore, at the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia and a small population in Kemasul Forest Reserve, Bukit Ibam area and the Rengit Forest reserve, all in Pahang state. The endemic montane bamboos are Gigantochloa holttumiana, G. holttumochloa and Maclurochloa montana. G. holttumiana found at the summit area of Fraser Hill, Pahang-Selangor area (highest peak just over 2000 m). Maclurochloa montana occurs only in the montane forest on Western Hill (Penang Island), Gunung Jerai (or Kedah Peak, in Kedah) and in the Frasers hill area on the Pahang-Selangor border between altitude of 830-1300 m (Wong 1995).

Table 1. Density of bamboos by forest districts, Peninsular Malaysia

Source: Lockman et al. 1992

State

Districts

Compartment areas

Stock

Species

Hectares

(%)

No. of culms

(%)

Johor

South

0.00

0.00

0

0.00


Center

0.00

0.00

0

0.00


East

4205.25

13.22

739 260

15.14

B. heterostachya

North

27 615.51

86.78

4 142 340

84.86

S. zollingeri

Total

31 615.51

100.00

3 881 600

100.00


Kedah

South

13585.85

64.99

2967150

46.32

D. asper

Center

4 834.00

23.13

2 358 900

36.82

G. scortechinii, S. grande

North

2 482.70

11.88

1 079 850

16.86


Total

20 902.55

100.00

6 405 900

100.00


Kelantan

West

5 788.00

6.38

3 389 800

10.92


South

58 489.00

64.45

20 990 850

67.64

G. scortechinii, S. grande

East

26 470.00

29.17

6 655 200

21.44

G. species, D. pendulus

Total

90 747.00

100.00

31 035 750

100.00


Melaka

Jasin

563.37

100.00

249 750

100.00

D. asper

N. Sembilan

West

20 930.25

86.19

5 993 910

80.83

D. sinuatus, S. zollingeri

East

3 353.97

13.81

1 421 550

19.17

D. sinuatus, S. zollingeri

Total

24 284.22

100.00

7415460

100.00


Pahang

Bentong

2 948.67

2.45

442 290

1.88


Jerantut

12 112.12

10.06

1 986 540

8.46

S. brachycladum, S. gracile

Kuantan

9 485.00

7.88

2 456 730

10.46


Kuala Lipis

88814.83

73.79

15684210

66.80

S. brachycladum, S. gracile

Rompin

5 342.29

4.44

2 288 130

9.75

B. vulgaris

Temerloh

1 664.72

1.38

622 860

2.65

D. asper, B. ridleyi

Total

120 367.63

100.00

23 480 760

100.00


Perak

Kinta/Manjung

5 297.45

7.83

2 383 860

11.82

B. vulgaris, S. zollingeri

Kuala Kangsar

10 676.90

15.78

2 703 000

13.40

B. vulgaris, G. wrayi

Larut/Matang

5 481.00

8.10

1 492 050

7.40

D. scandens

South

6 179.74

9.13

1 388 700

6.88

S. grande, G. scortechinii

Ulu Gerik

40 045.40

59.16

12 206 550

60.50

B. vulgaris, S. grande

Total

67 680.49

100.00

20 174 160

100.00


Perlis


0.00

0

0

0


P. Pinang


2 739.00

100.00

1 096 950

100.00

S. zollingeri, B. arundinacea

Selangor

Hulu Selangor

12 193.36

30.76

7 563 510

61.01

G. scortechinii, D. asper

Pantai Kelang

0.00

0.00

0

0.00


Center

27 448.00

69.24

4 833 900

38.99

B. vulgaris

Total

39 641.36

100.00

12397410

100.00


Terengganu

West

8 060.00

35.08

1 209 000

35.08

G. scortechinii, D. asper

South

13 015.00

56.62

1 952 250

56.65


North

1 901.00

8.27

285 150

8.27

D. sinuatus

Total

22 976.00

100.00

3 446 400

100.00


W. Persekutuan


0.00

0.00

0

0.090


P. Malaysia


421 722.38

100.00

110 584 140

100.00



Table 2. Uses of twelve commercial bamboo species in Malaysia

Source: Azmy and Abd. Razak 1991

Species

Local Name

Uses

Bambusa blumeana

Buluh duri

Chopstick, tooth picks, furniture, musical instrument, poles, shoots as food

Bambusa heterostachya

Buluh galah/tilan/pering/pengat

Poles, frames, tooth picks, blinds, skewer sticks

Bambusa vulgaris

Buluh minyak/aao/aro/gading/ Tamalang/pa

Ornamental, tooth picks, chopsticks, skewer sticks, shoots as food

Bambusa vulgaris var. striata

Buluh gading

Ornamental

Dendrocalamus asper

Buluh beting/pering

Shoots as food, higo materials, chopstick

Gigantochloa levis

Buluh beting/bisa

Shoots as food, higo materials, chopstick

Gigantochloa ligulata

Buluh tumpat/tikus belalai

Frames, shoots as food, poles for vegetables support

Gigantochloa scortechinii

Buluh semantan/rayah/gala/paao/ Seremai/telur

Handicraft, smallscale industries, incense sticks

Gigantochloa wrayi

Buluh beti/raga

Handicraft, blinds, tooth picks, skewer sticks, shoots as food

Schizostachyum brachycladum

Buluh nipis/lemang/padi/urat/rusa/ Pelang

Handicraft, rice vessels (lemant)

Schizostachyum grande

Buluh semeliang/semenyeh

Frames, leaves used for wrapping Chinese glutinous rice dumpling

Schizostachyum zollingeri

Buluh dinding/kasap/telor/pelang/ nipis

Handicraft, toothpick, skewer sticks


Table 3. Culm characteristics of common bamboo species

Source: Azmy and Abdul Razak 1991

Species

Height (m)

Internode Length (cm)

DBH (cm)

Wall thickness (mm)

No. of culm/ clump

Bambusa blumeana

16-18

35

7-9

12-18

40-60

Bambusa heterostachya

10-13

40

4.5-5.0

8-10

40-60

Bambusa vulgaris

10-18

33

7-9

10-12

50-90

Bambusa vulgaris var. striata

8-18

35

5-10

8-16

30-60

Dendrocalamus asper

18-23

35

9-13

10-14

33-35

Gigantochloa levis

18-23

35

11-13

11-15

40-50

Gigantochloa ligulata

7-10

35

2.7-3.5

9-11

30-40

Gigantochloa scortechinii

17-20

42

9-11

7-12

50-80

Gigantochloa wrayi

15-18

40

8.5-10

6-10

40-70

Schizostachyum brachycladum

12

58

6-7

3-5

30-50

Schizostachyum grande

18-21

85

8-11

6-10

40-60

Schizostachyum zollingeri

12-15

55

5-7

4-7

50-70


Fig. 1. Map of forest and tree cover: Peninsular Malaysia

Fig. 2. Distribution of natural bamboo stands in Peninsular Malaysia

Source: Lockman et al. 1992.
Fig. 3. Growing shoot of Giagantochloa scortechinii

Fig. 4. Clump of Bambusa blumeana

Ground inventory in Malaysia takes into consideration species, quality and density classes, major forest types, stocking, clump distribution, clump size and bamboo regeneration conditions (Wan Razali and Azmy 1994). Remote sensing techniques and aerial photographs are very promising in locating the extent of the bamboo areas in forests. The estimated total bamboo clumps according to such forest inventories are stratified into forest areas, and are as follows: Gigantochloa scortechinii and Gigantochloa wrayi - 10 133 368 clumps of which 5 231 150 clumps were in the 11-20 years of logged over forest areas; Schizostachyum grande, S. zollingeri and Dendrocalamus pendulus - 2 8842 500 and 1 1754 935 clumps fall in the medium dense forest areas; Gigantochloa ligulata - 5 474 144 clumps, of which some 2 355 062 were estimated to be in original forests (Poh et al. 1994).

Conservation

No major conservation work has been done. However, conservation has been partially achieved in the planting of bamboos for several purposes. For stabilization of land, species such as Bambusa vulgaris, Gigantochloa levis, G. scortechinii and Schizostachyum jaculans have been planted (Abd Razak 1989b). Conservation has been done by farmers in Sungei Senang, Mukim Jeneri and Nami, Kedah where 2 ha and 1.3 ha respectively were planted in an agroforestry system, planting them along with rubber trees. Gigantochloa scortechinii natural stand bamboos have been maintained in between rubber rows to obtain culms (Azmy and Abd. Razak 1992). Two farmers have managed natural stands of bamboos in between rubber rows in Kedah, Northern Peninsular Malaysia. The first place is at Nami, where there are 35 clumps of this species managed in between 5-year-old rubber trees with a planting distance of 3 x 6 m on a contour hill. The other is at Sungei Senang, where there are 50 clumps maintained in between 20-year-old trees of spacing 3 x 6 m (Azmy and Abd. Razak 1992). The clumps in both areas grew naturally before the rubber trees were planted. These clumps were culled and left at reasonable distances.

From 1992 to 1995, the Forestry Department in Peninsular Malaysia planted bamboos in Kedah - 20 ha; Kelantan - 40 ha; Malacca - 20 ha; Negeri Sembilan - 24 ha; Pahang - 62 ha; Perak - 64 ha; Penang - 1 ha; Selangor - 30 ha, a total of 261 ha altogether (Anon 1995). Gigantochloa ligulata flowered gregariously at Kuala Nerang, Kedah (Azmy 1992d). About 40-45 seeds per inflorescence were collected. The flowering period lasted for six months from November to April.

Malaysian bamboos are often attacked by diseases at the establishment stage or at the onset of maturity, three years onwards. According to Azmy and Maziah (1990), most bamboos are easily infested by leaf spot and shot-hole diseases. The former caused by Collectotrichum and Nigrospora species, the latter by Glomerella cingulata. Abd. Razak and Azmy (1991) reported that young leaves of Bambusa vulgaris were attacked by the caterpillars of Pyrausta coclesalis and systemic insecticides such as dimethoate was sprayed to overcome the problem. Estigmina chinensis and Conarthus jansonii stem borer beetles damaged G. scortechinii natural stand culms by boring into the internodes. Removal of the infected culms was the only way to reduce the attack.

Growth

In natural stands of Gigantochloa scortechinii at Nami, Kedah, the average number of culms per clump was 19, the basal area in the 1 ha research trial plot was 12.32 m2 (Azmy 1991b). The shoots grew faster during the day time and the maximum height was 12.5 m after 10 weeks. Rain influenced the sprouting of shoots in the natural stand (Azmy and Hall 1992). FRIM initiated studies on the management of natural bamboo stand of G. scortechinii at Chebar Forest Reserve, Nami, Kedah. A single application of 2 kg of compound fertilizer NPK (15:15:15), increased the sprouting of shoots by 30% annually (Azmy 1992c). A 40% felling intensity increased the number of culms produced. The mortality values of G. scortechinii sprouts of age one year and below, two years and three years were 10, 20 and 40% respectively.

Propagation methods

Malaysian bamboos are propagated by using rhizome offsets, culm cuttings and branch cuttings. According to Hashim (1998), branch cuttings of Bambusa vulgaris gave the highest percentage sprouting (90%), followed by G. levis (85%), B. blumeana (80%), D. asper (65%) and G. ligulata (40%). Culm cutting using mid-culm portion was the best in propagation and culms planted horizontally (Abd. Razak 1992). By applying NPK and chicken dung together, G. scortechinii rhizome offsets survived upto 85% about 30 months after planting. Propagation of bamboo in the tin-tailing areas was also tried by Abd. Razak. The mixtures of organic fertilizer and NPK (15:15:15) enhanced the growth. Bambusa vulgaris was found to grow better than Dendrocalamus asper and Gigantochloa levis. In the propagation of G. scortechinii by means of marcotting at FRIM, the treatments and media used were 200 g each of top soil (3:1), machined coconut husk, burned paddy husk, and palm oil mill effluent (POME). G. scortechinii grew better with POME (Azmy 1992b).

Exotic bamboos Phyllostachys glauca, P. nigra, P. pubescens and P. viridis from China, were planted at Bukit Fraser and Genting Highlands using rhizomes. P. glauca grew best producing an average of 12 sprouts with mean height of 171.8 cm in 24 months after transplanting. The other species, showed slow growth (Abd. Razak 1989a). Gigantochloa ligulata (Buluh tumpat) seedlings were raised at FRIM, Kepong, (Azmy 1991a). The seedlings developed in the second week after sowing. With 1:3 soil-sand ratio, the germination was 76% and it was better to sow deglumed seeds. Fertilizer was applied in the seventh week after sowing. According to Krishnapillay et al. (1993) using cryopreservation methods worked better on bamboo seedlings of Thyrsostachys siamensis, Bambusa bambos, Dendrocalamus membranaceus and Dendrocalamus brandisii, after drying them in laminar flow cabinet (25+-2°C with a relative humidity of 55%) for a period of 5 hours. When seed moisture was reduced from 9-15% to 2-4% there was no real loss of viability over a period of 9 months. Micropropagation of Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa vulgaris var. striata and G. levis was possible through multiple shoot formation method using nodal segments from lateral branches of mature plants. (Aziah and Warus 1992).

Extraction and sustainable utilization

The highest annual royalties collected from bamboo from 1980 to 1987 were in Perak (44%), followed by Kedah (33%), Johore (10%), Selangor (8%), Perlis and Pahang (about 2% each). The total revenue collected from bamboo taxation in Peninsular Malaysia in 1987 was RM 65 951 (This was 57 tonnes of estimated availability of bamboo production based on 180 culms equivalent to 1 tonne dry-weight and an average royalty of three cents per culm) (Abd. Latif and Abd. Razak 1991). According to Dahlan (1994), in Pahang alone, 192 101 culms of more than 2 cm and less than 5 cm diameter and 154 447 culms of more than 5 cm diameter were extracted and the total royalty of RM 19 998.11 was paid. The number of culms extracted and catered according to its specific uses were as follows: baskets - 37 810 pieces; Joss-paper - 2 911 845; Skewer sticks - 1974; fish traps - 7000 and chicken house flooring - 10 000 (Poh et al. 1994). The production and sustainability of Malaysian bamboos found naturally in the forest can be managed so that the resources will not be depleted. According to Azmy et al. (1997), natural stands of Gigantochloa scortechinii especially in Kedah, Northern Peninsular Malaysia can be managed with recommended felling intensity of 70% per clump, only mature culms of 3 years and above can be felled. Further more, rotational felling at every 2 consecutive years can be applied in sustaining the production of quality culms. Culms should not be clear felled.

Research in progress

For Malaysian natural stand bamboos, on going research has focused on the application of organic fertilizers at Nami, Kedah, Peninsular Malaysia. Various combinations of fertilizers was applied on the bamboo clumps in the assigned trial plots. This involved two species, Gigantochloa scortechinii (Buluh semantan) and Dendrocalamus pendulus (Buluh akar).

The objectives of this study are:

· To develop improved management and sustainable use of bamboos in Malaysia;

· To determine different management practices on basic culm properties;

· To optimize the processing and promotion of advanced technology to improve raw material (e.g. parquet); and

· To disseminate information to user groups.

Malaysian commercial bamboos will be cultivated on a large scale in Pahang, on a 100 ha area in the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) estate. Four species, Bambusa vulgaris, Dendrocalamus asper, Gigantochloa sp. (brang) and Gigantochloa levis will be planted. The objective is to increase the resource supply on a sustained basis in future. In addition, the culms will be used for making high value added products such as parquet. The project will also help train the settlers and make them successful entrepreneurs in the bamboo production area as well in the industry. In terms of developmental strategies, this will help to encourage the local people in other states of the country to venture and establish bamboo plantations. In addition, other government agencies such as the Department of Aborigines Affairs in Peninsular Malaysia is also involved in the training.

Utilization and economic value

Bamboo has been used in the making of products such as chopsticks (Razak and Tamizi 1989), vegetable baskets (Azmy 1989) tooth-picks (Wong 1989) and others. There are 2 joss paper factories, one each in Pahang and Perak. The joss paper factory in Perak produced 1.3 million kg in 1992, and was mainly exported to Taiwan (Lockman et al. 1992). There are 9 bamboo entrepreneurs who develop bamboo basket industry in Perak. Daily, about 6000 vegetable baskets are sent to Cameron Highlands (Lim and Roslan 1992). This is a home industry involving family members as workers. Of the total 382 workers, 47% are full-time workers while the rest work on a part-time basis. Women constitute 61% of the workers in the manufacturing of bamboo baskets (Lim and Roslan 1992).

The export of bamboo increased from 329 tonnes in 1991 to 7348 tonnes in 1995 (valued at RM 193 019). The import value increased from 2097 tonnes in 1991-94 426 tons in 1995 (valued at RM 2 586 188) (Anonymous 1995). The main buyers for Malaysian bamboos were Singapore and Vietnam. Malaysia also imported finished bamboo products such as chopsticks from Taiwan (Anonymous 1991) (Table 4).

Table: 4. Exports and imports of bamboo (1991-1995).

Year

Trade

Quantity (Tonnes)

Value (RM)

1991

 

Export

329

314 086

Import

2 097

1 472 276

1992

 

Export

208

148 284

Import

3 510

2 339 551

1993

 

Export

111

122 130

Import

4 120

2 966 321

1994

 

Export

692

168 899

Import

3 761

2 804 197

1995

 

Export

7 348

193 019

Import

94 426

2 586 188

Source: Anon, 1995.
The culm characteristics of the 12 commercial bamboos are shown in Table 3. The maximum weight of one culm each of G. scortechinii, S. zollingeri and S. grande was 27.2 g, 16.3 g and 4.3 g, respectively (Azmy 1993). There is a positive linear relationship between green weight and solid volume of G. scortechinii, B. blumeana, S. grande and S. zollingeri (Azmy et al. 1991). Studies on comparative vascular anatomy of 1 to 3 year old bamboo species of B. blumeana, B. vulgaris and G. scortechinii were conducted. The fibre length and cell wall thickness were not significantly influenced by the increment of age and culm height. The average fibre length of the 3 bamboo species varied from 1.74-4.24 mm. With the increment of age, all the fibre dimensions (except fibre diameter) increased (Abd. Latif et al. 1990a,b; Abd. Latif and Wan Tarmeze 1990). According to Abd. Latif (1987), the selection of bamboo for industrial uses and housing should be based on the physical and mechanical properties. The physical properties vary within and between the culms of the bamboo species. The moisture content of bamboo was highest near the basal portion, and density the lowest (Abd. Latif et al. 1989; Abd. Latif and Wan Tamizi 1990). The density of G. scortechinii was lowest at the basal portion of 1-year-old culm (0.49) and highest at the top portion of the 3-year-old culm (0.58) (Jamaludin et al. 1992). The older bamboo showed better processing qualities.

G. scortechinii has the potential to produce fermented products such as ethanol by enzymatic saccharification (Nor Azah and Azmy 1991). In addition, according to Mohd Nor, the younger culm of G. scortechinii was easier to pulp due to its lower lignin content compared to the older culm. It is a good raw material for pulping (Jamaludin et al. 1992). Bamboo flooring can be made from B. vulgaris and G. scortechinii which were better than kempas (Koompasia malaccensis). According to Chew et al. (1992), B. vulgaris also was used for producing medium density particle board.

Research and development needs

There are several constraints in Malaysia in the area of bamboo production and utilization which require attention They are as follows:

1. The difficulty of acquiring enough land for large scale plantation and exploitation of commercial Malaysian bamboos. With the Federal Government and State policy in the country, for every 100 ha of land to be developed for any purpose, it has to get approval from the state Exco Committee and this has hindered the interest of the entrepreneurs to venture into the planting of bamboo because the decision making process takes long time.

2. Poor management system of the cottage industry which is family managed. They lack the knowledge in modern factory management, and this has hindered development of the industries. In addition, it is difficult for such families to obtain bank loans.

3. Lack of product technology development, especially better designing for export markets.

4. Most of the bamboo entrepreneurs currently in the industry cannot compete in the international market, with the high production costs and poor product quality.

5. Lack of supply of quality bamboo culms due to the haphazard way of felling and mixture of various ages of bamboo culms, which reduces the quantity and quality of the products.

6. Lack of quality planting materials especially for mass propagation.

Suggestions for improvement include:
1. Land policy should be flexible, especially in acquiring large tracts of land in the Forest Reserve areas which can be managed on a plantation basis.

2. Courses in business management in bamboo industry should be conducted to the public, especially to cottage industry entrepreneurs.

3. Product development for higher value added like parquet and new product designs with international standards.

4. In situ and ex situ conservation measures should be stressed especially for commercial species for future supply of materials.

5. Good germplasm should be identified and collection of quality planting materials should be implemented.

6. Management regimes for commercial plantation purposes should be highlighted for future research.

References

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