"My experience of planting bamboo in Nepal for the Grow Bamboo Initiative" by Apsana Kafle
Apsana Kafle (National Coordinator of THE GROW BAMBOO INITIATIVE) is a graduate student from Nepal who pursued her undergraduate degree in Forestry from Tribhuvan University, Institute of Forestry. Throughout her university life, she had participated and led multiple conservation campaigns, outreach, and research activities related to landscape restoration and community resilience against natural disasters. She is leading a conservation campaign named “Generation for Restoration” where she mobilizes youth towards restoration of urban green spaces. Apsana wants to promote research, conservation and awaneress of the bamboo sector in Nepal, a country where bamboo has a significant role as a natural resource and cultural resource. She believes that bamboo sector promotion is absolutely necessary to upscale the economy and resilience of the country towards the roadmap of Sustainable Development Goals.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
On 18th of September, 2020 I woke up with an email from Julia Washbourne, CEO Bamboa and Dr. Shyam Paudel, Senior Forestry and Climate Change Expert, about their global initiation to expand and promote bamboo plantation to combat the impacts of climate change through the Grow Bamboo Initiative. I was overwhelmed to be chosen as the focal person from Nepal and was responsible for facilitating the project. It didn’t take me much time to contact Mr Badri Adhikari, Community Leader from Dhaneshwari village of Kavrepalanchowk who had been working on Moso bamboo for a decade and had operated a moso bamboo nursery there.
DHANESHWARI CAUGHT ME IN ONE SIGHT
I had bounded myself within the Kathmandu city for months due to the long travel restrictions. The longing to escape outdoors and excitement to embark the new venture had heated an innate desire within me. Dhaneshwari village of Kavrepalanchowk district was the best outskirt destination that came in my mind, it was just 25 kms away from the capital city with lush green forests, scenic landscape view and hardworking village dwellers with warm and welcoming smiles and bright eyes that reflected rays of hope.
As I took my steps along the trails of Dhaneshwari village, my eyes passed through the large paddy field fenced by seasonal veggies and colorful fruit trees. In the midst of this afternoon sunlight, the farmers in the field kept their heads shadowed through the bamboo hats woven in the nearby neighbourhood and women climbed up hillocks with bamboo baskets on their forehead to collect fodder for their livestocks.
Dhaneshwari, lies at an elevation about 1500 metres above the sea level, thus witnessing landslides and regular soil erosion during the monsoon season wasn’t something new. In addition to that I even met some ultra poor families who had lost their properties and lives of immediate family members by the earthquake of 2015.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
These reasons were enough to convince me and the founders for the first bamboo plantation to be conducted in Dhaneshwari. This will not just contribute to offsetting carbon emission but will also bring livelihood diversification opportunities, generate green employment and reduce risk from disasters and bring resilience to locals. However, there were multiple angles of the lens to be looked over before we made the final decision.
The first and the foremost was the ecological consideration as moso bamboo was a light demander species which requires appropriate elevation, large space for growth as the roots spread rapidly, availability of water and adequate minerals in the soil. These prerequisites were fulfilled by the community forest of Dhaneshwari as there was already a bamboo demonstration plot which was a successful and exemplary site for observation in Nepal. Besides, the local dwellers were familiar with the nature of the species and the derivatives of application that the species could offer.
Well, that wasn’t enough, I reflected that the success of community forestry in Nepal was because of the participatory approach and the autonomy of ownership among the users that it created. So, following up the same track I secretly investigated the necessity of the project and people’s willingness through some individual discussion with the men and women whom I had met on my 1st and 2nd visit.
Mr. Badri had helped me identify the ultra poor communities who were interested in bamboo plantation. We had invited them for a group meeting to discuss the concept of GBI, make a committee whom we can hand over the ownership of the plantation project, their plan of ensuring the sustainability of the project, how the benefits will be shared and responsibilities would be divided. I did a careful surveillance on the community's interest in the bamboo project. After in depth discussion, a committee of ten families was made whom the planted area would be handed over to. The team also selected a site of 1 hectare where around 300 moso bamboo seedlings could be planted and upon the careful diagnosis of the area (aspect, slope, soil depth, availability of water and sunlight) finally we agreed on the day for plantation to be held on 10th October, 2020.
PREPARING FOR THE BAMBOO PLANTATION
Plantation cannot be completed on a single shot. There are a lot of activities to be completed before the baby bamboos are set up on the ground. The committee enthusiastically came up with sub groups within them to prepare the site. Some were taking the lead for weeding the area while some jumped on the ground with shovels and spades to dig the ground. We had a total of 1 week before we set bamboo on the ground and the preparation work was working well. The community coordination was applaudable and everything was moving as per plan.
The early morning sunshine followed by the gentle breeze of autumn had added a new freshness to this day and I was excited to set on my journey to Kavre. When I reached the site everything was ready. I could see the committee members ready with gloves on their hands and bright smiles on their faces to welcome me and my brother who had accompanied me. There were 300 holes dug for bamboo seedlings each 5 m apart. We commenced our plantation with me following Mr. Badri for the inauguration. The GBI members immediately out spreaded throughout the plot for the plantation. Meanwhile me and my brother followed them and heard their stories and hoped that the bamboo shoot would bring.
Within a couple of hours the plantation was completed. Some people visited each plant individually to water them while some collected the plastic wraps of the bamboo seedling.
TIME FOR CELEBRATION
I was surprised with a jungle picnic that was planned after the plantation. We all gathered in a circle for the feast that the villagers had brought with them. Together with them I giggled and we discussed the new frontiers of opportunities that Bamboo can bring in their lives with its growing leaves and shoots.
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Read our previous blog "How The Grow Bamboo Initiative by Bamboa is Helping Fight Climate Change" here.
Learn more about the Grow Bamboo Initiative here.