In the heart of Lower Subansiri of Arunachal Pradesh lies a kidney-shaped valley inhabited by a tribe popularly known as “APATANI”. Ziro, the district head-quarter of Lower Subansiri is also located in this valley. This fascinating piece of land comprising of about 32 Sq.Km. of cultivable areas and 1058 Sq. Km. areas of the valley undulated by small hillocks at an elevation of 1525 metre above sea level to tall mountains ranging from 1830 to 2900 metre in altitude.

The valley enjoys a temperate climate. The hills belong to gond age and main rocks are Schist and Dolomites which are overlaid with deep layer of sandy loam soil covered with a thick layer of decomposed humus.

The Apatanis do not practice jhuming (Shifting cultivation) so the mountains surrounding the valley have not been deprived of the beautiful forests as compared to other areas where jhuming are prevalent. The main species found in these temperate forests are Abies densa, Quercus spp., Michilus vilosa, Schima wallichii, Cinnamomum cecidephne, Prunus cornata, Taxus baccata, Cephalotaxus, etc. in the top storey under which Acer spp., Rhododendron, Pieris ovalifolia, Gaultheria, Rubus niveus, Prinsepia utilis, Indigofera spp., ferns, orchids, medicinal plants, etc. are present. Besides, the above mention broadleaved species like the conifers, Abies densa, Pinus wallichiana etc. are also available. The blue pine (Pinus wallichiana) is found in comparatively narrow belt of more or less pure crop of different age gradation at the lower slopes around the periphery of the cultivated land. The art of afforestation practice is prevalent in Apatani Valley since time immemorial. It is believed amongst the Apatani that afforestation technique called SALE/ PIISA/SANSU/BIJE GONNII starts with their migration which the fore-father given to younger generation SADISAPA (pine tree) and BIDU BIKAN (Bamboo grove). Besides, pine tree and bamboo they also plant trees like Alnus nepalensis (RIME), Prunus spp. (PIITA), Pyrus (PECHA), Prunus nepalensis (SEMBO) etc. as farm forestry in their bamboo groove for various domestic uses. From the pine tree, Apatani use it for multiferous activities like timber for construction of building, making of furniture and variety of crafts. The pine tree is required not only for fuel wood but also during performance of puja like MYOKO/MURUNG/SUBU which is greatly revered and specifically kept in their plantation for such celebration. In addition, traditional medicine is used from resin for joint pain, dislocation of nose tagging and crack heel before arrival of modern medicine. Pine resins are also used for adhesive and varnishes. In by gone days before arrival of modern day living that is electricity and kerosene, the heart wood of pine tree (SATTI) is use for lightning of the street in night by holding it on hand and ignition of fire wood by burning the split wood of pine tree at fire place. Roofing of the house is also made use of by splitting the timber into fine thin layer sheet called SANTHA.

The plantation of pine tree is generally maintained with utmost care along with or without bamboo besides Castonopsis Spp.(KIIRA SANII) which is required for construction purposes. The planting of pine sapling is carried out in the month of February-March from the sapling collected from nearby mature established plantation areas where seedling grown naturally and planted at spacing of 2.5x 2.5m. In the early years branches are to be prune regularly to obtain straight pole required for construction works.

Bamboo called BIJE in Apatani, the poor man’s timber is much sought after for different end use. As in other parts of world, bamboo in Apatani also use for different purposes which bamboo groove is must for every family. There are different species of bamboo in the valley like Phyllotachys bambusoides, Chimnobambusa callosa(Tabyo), Dendrocalamus hamiltonii (YAHI), Bambusa tulda (HIJO), YABIN (Cephallostachium capitatum), BIHII(Chimnobambusa spp),TAJER/Taping, Tapyu, Hebing (Pleiosblastus simoni),Tadar (Arundinacia spp.) RIIJANG (Chimnobambusa spp), etc.
Bamboo Forest
Now a day, the progressive farmers are even raising Chinese bamboo (Phyllotachys pubescence) in plantation areas on experimental basis. However, only BIJE is cultivated one, rest all are available in nearby forest areas. The end use of BIJE are house construction (UDE), fencing (SULLU/NARUNG), granary (NESU), handicrafts (BUDU-BUGIA), sacrificial altar during MYOKO/ MURUNG and in other celebration, making of rope, decorative flower (ZOMPU). The bamboo shoot is eaten and very delicious food is prepared in from of PIKE/PILLA/BOILED shoots and also dried in from of HIKHU/HIYI. Fresh bamboo shoot of Phyllotachys bambusoides (BIJE) are collected during April to June from the individual bamboo gardens. Its quantification is difficult since only those shoots that are grown outside the boundary or on the main path of the plantation were cut. Late June to July, the bamboo shoots which are going to die or decay (Yat tanii) are also collected for eating as vegetable before drying and is not becoming culm. Besides, cane Plectocacomia himalayana(TARPI) and Calamus acanthospathus (Tasar) are used for binding purposes in construction of building.

Morey: its definition:

The Forest, in Apatani valley defines as areas having wild tree species located far away from village. It is exclusive of bamboo(Bije) and pine tree plantation areas (Sansung). However, the dictionary meaning of forest is an area having trees, shrubs and cover with other vegetations.

Pine Groove

A. Classification of Forest Based on intensification of Management

1. Bije : The Bije Bamboo grove is highly intensive manage and located nearby homestead. Further, classified into UKO Bije and ADO Bije . The area is suitably fenced and more recently even entrance door are locked which is rear in earlier days. In this BIJE plantation, pine and other tree species are less in number so as growth of bamboo is not retarded /suppressed.

2. Sansung : The pine and other mixed plantation areas with or without bamboos mainly raised for constructions purposes and located little far away from village which is less intensive management as compare to Bije. The Castonopsis (KIIRA SANII) is also raised and tended for construction purposes. The fencing is not elaborate as compare to Bije and sometimes trenches are constructed around the boundary so that Mithun do not come into the plantation and for demarcation purposes.

3. Morey : The least intensified manage forest and regeneration come up naturally and located far away from village. The plantation is mainly for firewood or other construction works besides collection of cane and bamboo (Yabin/Tajer), Leaf Niji Yanii for ceremonial purposes. As it is less manage areas and boundary is simply demarcated by DALING which is small footpath use for hunting and trapping wild animals. The Lampii, camp is located in the middle or entrance of the Morey where ceremonial EHA SOGYANG is erected. The medicinal plants and wild eatables like RIIKO, SANIITERO, SALYO, SAMPER, Litchi, BACHIN, DIIRANG SANKHA, BIILYING KORMO, etc are available in the areas.

4. Myodi : The forest not manages at all and kept for big game hunting only and located at very far off from Village.

5. Ranthii : Sacred grove, a small plot situated nearby every villages usually grown pine and other trees like Piita and the place where many ceremonial pujas are performed and forest are not utilized for any other purposes with the believe that groove is abode of many God, for example Tajang Ranthii, Kalung Ranthii, Hari Ranthii, Hong Ranthii, Bamin Ranthii, etc. However now a days, the trend is different that such forest is also felled for easy cash money.

B. Classification based on ownership of FOREST

1. Private ownership : BIJE, SANSUNG and Some forest areas

2. Kinsmen ownership: Immediate cousins /brothers owned common Bije, Morey, Sansung

3. Clan Ownership : Only Morey

4. Village ownership : Forest owned by villagers

Management of Plantation

1. Bamboo Plantation:

Bamboo plantation is fenced every year with bamboo itself. Traditional knowledge recommended the cutting of 3 year old bamboo culm from the plantation every year to ensure proper growth of new culms. An established plantation will regenerate on its own and can be continuously exploited for a number of years. It was recorded that an established bamboo plantation had bamboo upto 5000 culms per Ha. Of this more than 50% were recorded mature, which implies that such an area can yield about 2500 to 3000 mature bamboo in a year. Bije attained its full maturity in three years time and harvesting was done between August till December. Mature bamboo could be recognized by the bright orange fungal growth (nyanyee) around the node. The fungus is edible. The leave also become less in number and lighter in colour in mature bamboo. The bamboo culm remain for 10 years approx. thereafter, rhizomes also dried up. The multiplication of the Bije is done through rhizomes or full clump with rhizome in which top portion is cut to avoid wind damage before planting. Rhizomes from an established bamboo garden was dug up and planted at a new place in January-February. In a new garden, the planting of bamboo began from the top of the slope downward. The growth was said to be both quicker and better in this direction. The root of the planted shoot should be long for larger diameter culm and faster overall growth. An entire 1 or 2 years old bamboo culm along with rhizome was uprooted and planted at a new place for multiplication. The length of the planted culm maintained for 3 or 4 internodes after leafing starts. A natural occurring culm of his height was preferred for optimum growth. During the harvesting of bamboo, the culm was cut in the middle of the internode at an angle i.e slanting so that water did not collect and rot the bamboo just 2-3 nodes above the ground. If it was cut too close to the node, the natural drying of the culm will spread fast and affect the node adversely. Bamboo rhizomes are laid at preferred spacing interval of 2 to 3 metre to ensure quick coverage of the plantation area. Careful pruning of shoots are done to allow one or two stems to grow from each shoot. It takes about 5-6 years for a bamboo garden to yield utilizable mature bamboo and to cover an entire area of one hectares area s take another three years. Once planted the bamboo require careful maintenance like weeding, etc to obtain desire result at initial years and constant protection from biotic interference from straying cattle and mithun who love to eat both leaves and tender shoot of the bamboo, besides, trespassing from the human being. Now a day, there is little care in maintenance of bamboo plantation by the younger generation as they are staying outside the district for service sector. The older people also innovating by using plastic rope instead of cane may be the plastic rope is more durable or cane is rare or may be unable to collect the raw cane from the nearby forests.

Today, because of multifarious use the bamboo is much sought after in Apatani Valley. One bamboo pole costing Rs.10/- if marketing facility is available it could have fetched more prices as for use in like paper and pulp industry. Now a day, the younger generations amongst the Apatani community could not maintain the bamboo grove properly because of hectic pace associated with modern day’s life, as it requires constant monitoring and protection. However, the protection work of the groove could be slightly reduced by fencing with iron poles / RCC pole interwoven with paged /barbed wire tightly secured with U-nails. For such fencing assistance can be requested from the government either financing the project or for subsidy.

2. Pine plantation:

The plantation of pine tree is generally maintained with utmost care along with or without bamboo besides Castonopsis Spp.(KIIRA SANII) which is required for construction purposes. The planting of pine sapling is carried out in the month of February-March from the sapling collected from nearby mature established plantation areas where seedling grown naturally and planted at spacing of 2.5x 2.5m approx. to adapt in new soil before active growth season approaches.

Pine Forest

The Apatani normally collect seedling from open hilly slope or in landslide area as large number of seedling is found in these areas. It is an age old tradition that after harvesting one pine tree, one should atleast plant 4-5 seedling in harvested area for future use. This ensures proper management and continues supply of the material. During transplantation care is needed that seedling should be taken out with soil. In the early years branches are to be prune regularly to obtain straight pole required for construction works. The pruning of branches is done with some care by keeping 2 inches/ 5 cm from the main trunk and keeping two whorls in young stage and 3-4 whorls in medium/old stage in the apical portion. This enhances the growth because it reduces the nutrient requirement of the plant. The pine plantation is most of the time intermingled with bamboo plantation. In pure pine plantation also fencing is essential component as young plantations are trample/disturbed by cow and mithun. Sometime trenches are constructed if fencing cost is exorbitant in the boundary wall.

3. Morey:

Morey is least managed areas except by demarcating the boundary by DAHLING that is path maintained for trapping small animal like rat, birds, etc. The regeneration comes up naturally of wild species like Magnolia, Quercus, Mekahi, Tita sopa Castronosis, Hingori, etc. Cane and wild bamboo like Yahi, Tabyo also regenerate naturally. Sometime pine tree also planted in Morey particularly at resting place Lampii/Nyatu.


Farm forestry or plantation forestry in Apatani valley has been integral part of the local system, which are judiciously guarded and meticulously tended by all community members as it fulfill various basics needs. The rich natural resources combined with traditionally conservationist attitude of the Apatani can provide solution to many economic needs of the people. The Apatani have a natural inclination towards plantation and ecological conservation, which properly utilized can have tremendous impact on the development of the areas. The traditional knowledge and skill related to management of natural resources by the Apatani is immense and that can be replicated elsewhere. Now a day, the bamboo and pine plantation are taking up in nearby Nyishi village after seeing management practices of Apatani. There is great scope for research and design of traditional craft made from bamboo. Use of cane and bamboo go side by side. The tool use for bamboo processing is DAO/NYATU. Thus, any kind of development planning for the Apatani must base in the development of the natural resources that are found here particularly bamboo, medicinal plants, spices, etc.

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