Bamboo, the fastest growing plant, or rather a grass, is intricately associated with humans from times immemorial. The significance of bamboo knitted in Indian culture and region can be seen being reflected in texts of the Vedic age (1500 B.C. to 1000 B.C.) and other texts like Arthashastra. It is believed that it was only in the 4th century A.D. that the cultivation of Bamboo was reduced. It is considered one of the oldest building materials used in different parts of India.
Popular as green gold, in India bamboo is ubiquitous as it dominates rural and urban landscapes. From artifacts to sustainable architecture, bamboo remains a favorite as it’s fast to grow, low on maintenance, and has versatile potential. With over 49,000 plant species reported as of 2018, India holds about 11.5% of all flora in the world. Now, a new fossil record has shown that India is the birthplace of Asian bamboo, and they were formed about 25 million years ago in the north-eastern part of the country.
It is believed, during British Raj in India, to elevate their homegrown Timber industry, Britishers started a manipulative campaign chipping away bamboo as poor man's Timber, and publicized a false belief of bamboo being inferior in quality. In reality, bamboo matures in 3-5 years while timber needs 25-30 years to mature, bamboo fiber is 2-3 times stronger than timber, bamboo decreases your carbon footprint, prevents soil erosion, and is sustainable.
1. A total of approximately 148 species in 29 genera of bamboos are currently thought to occur in India (both wild and cultivated)
2. More than 50% of the bamboos found naturally occurring in India (71sps) are endemic to the country.
3. About 25% of bamboo species of the world are found in India, distributed widely in almost all states.
4. The different bamboo species that occupy 13% of the total forest area of the country (Varmah and Bahadur 1980).
5. These species (around 123 species) growing right from the coastal plains and ascending to elevations of 3700 meters in the Himalayas (Mehra and Sharma 1975) are particularly abundant in the Western Ghats and the “Sister States “of North-east India (Biswas 1988; Rai and Chauhan 1998).
6. Due to the lack of data on their exploitation from natural resources and partly due to lack of systematic studies on assessment of the threat to these plants we are not even aware of rare, threatened, or vulnerable species of bamboo in India.
At Mianzi, Bamboo is being used to transform the definition of sustainability, by exploiting it thoughtfully in integration with technology in several sectors.
Contemporary Bamboo furniture and smart lighting have already been introduced to the market and several other products are streamlined to be made available in near future, which will revolutionize different sectors including architecture, mobility, etc.
This will not only provide better and sustainable alternatives for wood or plastic-made products but also revive the cultural heritage of India while generating thousands of jobs in rural India.
From being considered as a sustainable construction material to an essential ingredient in traditional cuisines, to the manufacture of sustainable fuel, the versatility of bamboo can be seen from its diverse usages. India has the largest area and the second-largest reserve of bamboo in the world. Bamboo has the potential to transform the country’s rural economy and contribute to the sustainable development efforts of the country and revolutionize the world view of sustainability. Urban aspirations need to transcend from viewing bamboo as a material used for décor, garden furniture, and artifacts of ornamental appeal and understand that this green Kohinoor can impact the Indian economy positively and help us bring our carbon footprint to zero.
There is a need to encourage people to diversify bamboo usage as a sustainable architectural and eco-friendly material after considering its economic factors. India houses immense potential to cultivate this green industry, promote sustainable production and consumption, and contribute to ecological and cultural wealth, at the same time.
1. Bamboo Diversity of India: An update By M.L. Sharma and Nirmala C
2. India is home to Asia’s oldest bamboo By Aswathi Pacha from The Hindu [Dated October 05, 2019]
3. Socio-cultural and Management Significance of Bamboos in Indian heritage and tradition By Chandrashekara U.M, Pavan Tikhile, Sruthi Subbanna, Syam Viswanath
4. World Bamboo Day: India’s green gold is sustainable and versatile by Swasti Pachauri