Sustainable Bamboo Forests Developed in Flores, What are the Benefits?

%When IKN Comes, Indigenous People Are Worried That Traditions Will Disappear%

The bamboo forest in Radabata Village, Golewa District, Ngada Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, is a simulation demonstration plot. It is located not far from the Bambu Turetogo Campus, Ratogesa Village.

The one hectare simulation demonstration plot was the result of a collaboration between the Environmental Bamboo Foundation, Sao Bambu, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry [KLHK], Australia Global Alumni, and the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).

“The indigenous Sao Neguwula group is the owner of this 12 acre sustainable bamboo forest. The demonstration plot will be made in 2022,” explained Dominikus Watu, a traditional elder of Sao Neguwula, when he met Mongabay Indonesia some time ago.

Dominikus admitted that his party was interested in the concept of Sustainable Bamboo Forest [HBL] so that since 2012 they have partnered with the Sustainable Bamboo Foundation [YBL].

“The reason is, even though it is harvested every year, the betung bamboo [ Dendrocalamus asper ] is still sustainable.”

Not everyone is allowed to cut bamboo on site, only YBL officers and the indigenous community. The goal, for the purposes of building traditional houses and other important activities.

Bamboo forest

Head of the YBL Program, Nurul Firmansyah, said that bamboo in Flores has survived because it is guarded by the community.

In the Ngada area, the traditional village attribute must have a bamboo forest. This forest is the boundary between customary territory and the source of material for traditional houses.

YBL’s Forestry Manager, Annisa Nur Endah, said that betung bamboo and its environment must be protected so that it can be used by the next generation.

Sustainable bamboo means that activities related to bamboo, from seeding, harvesting, to the process to the factory, are carried out responsibly. All processes from downstream to upstream are documented and the people involved must comply with applicable regulations.

“YBL is in the process of foresty council certification   so it has legality that the bamboo managed by YBL complies with national and international standards,” he explained.

Store water and sequester carbon

The potential of bamboo in Ngada Regency is spread over almost all Districts. Data from the 2018 Ngada Regional Government show that the potential for betung bamboo is 75,570 families with 27,169,214 stems.

Quoted from , ethnobiologist Wawan Sujarwo from BRIN explained that bamboo is a versatile plant.

He said, long bamboo roots pierce the ground, are stringy, and have many cavities so they can absorb more water and store it in the roots.

Wawan emphasized that bamboo roots can hold the texture and structure of the soil very well even on sloping land. This makes the soil safe from landslides and can control erosion.

“A bamboo clump is capable of storing between 360 and 391.2 cubic meters of water,” he explained.

In a study at the Bali Botanic Gardens, Wawan discovered a unique fact about the betung bamboo clump. Bamboo aged 5 years, 15-20 stems per clump with an average stem height of 15 meters and a diameter of 10-15 centimeters, the roots are capable of storing 360 m³ of water.

“Meanwhile, the stems can conserve as much as 391.224 m³ of water per clump,” he explained.

Based on YBL’s data, bamboo is able to restore critical land and store water. Each cluster saves five thousand liters of water per rainy season. One hectare of bamboo can absorb 50 tons of CO2 per year. It is estimated that one bamboo village stores 100 kilotons of CO2 per year.

“The HBL concept is important, considering that bamboo has an important role from an economic, cultural and ecological perspective,” concluded Nurul.

Petung Bamboo and 10 Amazing Facts

Petung bamboo or betung bamboo, has the scientific name Dendrocallamus asper . In English it is known as rough bamboo  or  giant bamboo .

In Indonesia, there are many names. Such as bulu botung [Batak], oloh otong [Gayo], awi bitung [Sundanese], pring petung [Javanese], perrèng pettong [Madura], awo petung [Bugis], betong [Manggarai], bheto [Flores], and swanggi bamboo [Papua].

For the people of Ngada, East Nusa Tenggara Province, petung bamboo is used to make houses, from poles, walls, to roofs. 

Unlike wood, this bamboo harvesting system is carried out in stages so as not to open up land which can cause environmental degradation. Petung bamboo is a source of building materials that are environmentally sound and produce sustainably.

Big size

It can reach 25 m in height, although it is generally around 14 m. The length of the stem segment ranges from 50-70 cm. The diameter of the rootstock can reach 26 cm and the top is 6-17 cm in diameter. 

Physical properties, fresh content 67.33% ± 108.46%, air dry moisture content 11.83% – 12.64%, fresh volume specific gravity 0.57 ± 0.69, air dry volume specific gravity 0.65 ± 0.78, and the specific gravity of the dry volume of the furnace is 0.66 ± 0.76 [Wulandari, 2019].

Jenis Kuat

Construction using petung bamboo is suitable for earthquake-prone areas. Also, as a support for buildings because it has thick reeds, making it stronger.

Petung bamboo has an average tensile strength in the oven dry state of 1,900 kg/cm 2 [without books] and 1,160 kg/cm 2 [with books]. 

Based on testing the average compressive strength of round petung bamboo at the base is 2,769 kg/cm 2 , the middle part is 4,089 kg/cm 2 , and at the tip is 5,479 kg/cm 2 [Morisco 1999].

The reed is thick, strong and durable; at 8% water content the wood density is between 0.7-0.8 g/cm³. 

Naturally, petung bamboo is widespread from Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok, the Nusa Tenggara Islands, to Maluku [Sutiyono, 1987].

Petung bamboo grows well in high places [> 300 m asl], hilly and wet climates. In general, live from the lowlands to the mountains with an altitude of 2000 m above sea level and can grow in various types of soil.

Procurement of seeds in many ways

Petung bamboo seedlings can be made in many ways: rhizome cuttings, reed [stem] cuttings, branch cuttings,  layering  [grafts and shoots], and tissue culture.

The most common cultivation of petung bamboo is by branch cuttings because it has advantages, such as being able to produce quite a lot of seeds and does not require a large area.

Grows the fastest

This bamboo has very fast growth, prime quality can be obtained at the age of 3-5 years. In contrast to forest wood which is ready to be cut with good quality at the age of 40-50 years.

The fastest growing in the rainy season, especially in damp places and near springs.

High potential

Petung bamboo lives in clumps. In Majasari Village, Subang, the average number of stems per clump is around 30.2 stems. The circumference of the clump is about 8.8 meters and the density in each clump is 3.2 stems/meter [Sutiyono, 1987].

This density shows that the potential for petung bamboo is quite high.

Big size shoots

In general, bamboo produces shoots. Shoots are young bamboo shoots that grow between the roots of clumps. The famous food of Semarang lumpia, for example, is made from bamboo shoots.

Bamboo shoots are often processed into flour, vinegar, chips, frozen bamboo shoots and pickles.

Petung bamboo shoots are purplish-black in color, covered with [miang] hairs like  brown  to black velvet. Size, bigger than other types. These bamboo shoots are often used as vegetables or pickles because of their sweet taste. Also, it can be canned for a longer shelf life.

High selling price

The price of petung bamboo is higher than other types of bamboo, because the diameter of the stem is larger.

In 2023, the recorded price per 6 m long stem is around IDR 75,000-IDR 175,000. Meanwhile, a length of 1 meter with a stem diameter of 100-120 mm costs Rp. 30,000 and a stem diameter of 160-180 mm is around Rp. 39,000 [Rumah]

Petung bamboo has elastic properties. The structure has high resistance to wind and earthquakes. A simple bridge in rural areas, many use this bamboo because it is elastic.

Petung bamboo is good for crafts with previous preservation treatment, such as furniture . Also, it can be used for boat awnings or tobacco shed frames.

Petung bamboo which has been processed into laminated bamboo has resistance from termite and fungal attacks.

Bamboo is a fast growing plant. Bamboo produces 30% more oxygen than wood forests in the same area. Bamboo has the function of preventing erosion, restoring damaged soil conditions, also neutralizing poisons in contaminated soil.

Petung bamboo itself can function as a distributor of drinking water or irrigation for agriculture.

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