Bamboos are of limited diversity in Pakistan. The following are the most important:
1. Arundinaria falcata in the NW Himalayas at 1,200-2,000 m. It occurs in the undergrowth in forests of oak, firs and mixed trees, usually on northern slopes or in ravines. It is part of a wider gene pool through the Himalayas. It is used for making baskets, mats and pipes.
2. Bambusa bambos. It is rare in the Ravi river eastward. It is absent in the hills. This species is extensively used for construction.
3. B. multiplex in the plains of Punjab is a hedge bamboo, as in India; originally introduced from China. It has the potential to reach 2,000 m.
4. Dendrocalamus strictus. In Punjab and Kashmir. It is found also in mixed vegetation on Marghalla hills surrounding Islamabad. It is used for construction and a variety of purposes. This forms part of a gene pool extending across Hindustan and usually growing below 1,200 m. In Pakistan, the resources are shrinking.
Historically, after the splitting of Pakistan in 1971, the Forest Department and also progressive farmers introduced bamboos from India, Bangladesh and elsewhere, and plantations were established in Punjab. However, post harvesting and processing was poor and prices fell after 1980 so most plantations were uprooted.
There is a need to assess the existing diversity, introduce additional productive forms and conserve representative stands.
By Zahoor Ahmad
National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Islamabad, Pakistan