Short essay on Minor Forest Products (India)

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Besides wood, forests provide a number of minor products which are utilised in different indus­tries, used in domestic consumption or exported to foreign countries. These include bamboos, canes, tendu leaves, grasses, oils, medicinal plants, herbs, lakh, resins, gums, tanning material, dyes, honey, bee-wax, ivory, vegetable, fruits roots and tubers etc.

(a) Bamboos-Bamboos occur in tropical moist and dry forests in north-east India, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. They are woody and may attain a height of 30 m. Bamboo is called as the poor man’s timber and is used for a variety of purposes i.e., basket making, roofing and thatching material, construction work and pulp making etc.

In India more than 100 varie­ties of bamboos are found. According to Planning Commission (1965) bamboos occupy 1, 00,209 sq. km. of country’s forest area and the annual produc­tion is 4 million tons (Table 6.II). Of the total production of bamboos about 32% is used in con­struction work, 30% is rural use, 17% for pulp making, 7% for packing and remaining 14% for miscellaneous uses.

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Different types of decorative items such as flower pot, tray, vases, caskets and even ornaments are made of bamboos in the states like Mizoram. Bamboos also find a place in cultural activities of the Mizo people, i.e., Cherraw (bam­boo) dance.

7. Nahar-it is mainly found in the west coast and in the forests of Assam. The wood is fairly strong and durable capable of being used for railway sleep­ers, keels and masts of boats, pit-props and piles.

8. Poon-it is found in Western Ghats and Kerala. The wood is very hard, can be easily sea­soned and is first-class structural timber, largely used in furniture-making and house-building.

Woods from the Himalayan Forests

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1. Deodar (Cedrus deodara)-it grows in the north-western Himalayas from Kashmir to Garhwal between the height of 1500 m and 2500 m. It is of light yellow-brown color and possesses distinctive odor. It is a medium weight wood which is very sturdy in use and durable. It is also an easy timber to saw and work to a smooth finish. The timber is used for construction-work and for railway sleepers. It is also suitable for beams, floor boards, ports, window frames, light furniture and shingles.

2. Chirr (Pinus longifolia)-Chirr occurs in the Himalayas from Bhutan westwards between the elevation of 900 m to 1800 m. The wood is light reddish brown, moderately hard and is largely used for making tea chests, furniture, and match industry and railway sleepers. It yields resin and turpentine.

3. Blue Pine (Pinus excelsa)-It grows along the entire length of the Himalayas from Chumbi valley to Sikkim between the elevation of 1800 m and 3600 m. The wood is pink in color, moderately hard and of good quality. It is used for making doors, windows, and furniture and railway sleepers. It also yields resin and turpentine.

4. Silver Fir (Abies)-it is found in the north­western and eastern Himalayas at elevations from 2200 m to 3000 m. The wood is soft but not very durable. It is mostly used for planking, packing boxes, containers, wood pulp, paper and match sticks.

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5. Spruce (Picea smithiana)-It grows in west­ern Hiomalayas at elevations from 2100 m to 3600 m. Its soft and white wood is used for construction- work, railway sleepers, cabinet making, packing cases and wood pulp.

6. Walnut (Juglans regia)-It is found in Kash­mir, Himachal Pradesh, Khasi hills and hills of Punjab. It is relatively light wood, works easily and finishes to a fine surface. Once dried it does not shrink, swell or split. The wood is used for musical instruments and cabinet work. It is used extensively in Kashmir and north India for carving. It is also used for gun stocks.

7. White Willow (Salix Alba)-It is a small tree found in the north-western Himalayas and in the valley of Kashmir. Its twigs are used for making baskets. Cricket bats are made of the wood.

8. Indian Birch-it is obtained from the higher slopes of the Himalayas. The wood is grayish in color, even textured and straight grained. It is largely used for furniture, plywood work, radio cabinets etc.

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9. Cypress-it mostly occurs in the U.P. Hima­layas. The wood is durable and is used for making furniture.

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