Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a few years from now, forests in the district may proudly sport lush green bamboo thickets covering large areas.

More than a 1,000 families including tribesfolk and those living in the fringe areas of the forests are expected to participate in a major exercise to plant and nurture 2.5 lakh saplings of bamboo.

The project, taken up by the Forest Department in association with the National Bamboo Mission, aims at regenerating the forests in the region and help check soil erosion by protecting the banks of rivers and streams. As many as 210 hectares of forest land have been identified for planting bamboos.

Ready for planting

Divisional Forest Officer S. Muraleedharan said the saplings for the scheme were ready for planting.

“We have set up bamboo nurseries at Mathrakarikkakam in the Kulathupuzha Forest Range, Narakathinkala in Paruthipally range and Chekkonam and Pethalakarikkakam in the Palode range”.

The project is to be implemented by the Forest Development Agency (FDA), Thiruvananthapuram. Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS) will be responsible for planting the seedlings in the designated areas.

An amount of Rs.13.65 lakh sanctioned by the National Bamboo Mission was spent last year on raising the nurseries. The Kerala Forest Research Institute at Peechi supplied the seedlings.

While the VSS, Palode, will take up planting at Mankayam and Ponmudi, VSS, Paruthipally, will do the same at Kallar and VSS, Kulathupuzha, will cover Mathrakarikkakakam, Pottamavu, Elavupalam, Thannimoodu, Milpalam and Chozhiyakodu. VSS members have been equipped to implement the scheme.

As many as 625 saplings are to be planted per hectare.

Five species

Mr. Muraleedharan said five endemic species of bamboo had been selected for the project.

He added that the project was likely to be extended to cover the development of processing technology and value- added products from bamboo in the subsequent phase. That, he said, would involve training of stakeholders and establishing a marketing network.

The project is expected to help protect the banks of the Vamanapuram, Chittar, Kallada and Attayar rivers that are increasingly prone to soil erosion.