From the preface:
"Our forests abound with many useful plant species that provide for human comfort and livelihood. Rattans, the climbing palms of tropical forests, can be regarded as one such group of plants which have been in use for many centuries for diverse wickerwork and handicrafts. The resource has been a means of income for thousands of forest dwellers, craftsmen and traders. However, rattan manufacture and export picked up momentum only during the latter half of the 20th century due to the growing popularity of its products in Asian and European markets. This has led to indiscriminate exploitation and depletion of rattan resources from their natural habitats in South and Southeast Asian countries and attempts to replenish the resources have been only nominal.
Rattans are climbing palms which belong to the subfamily Calamoideae under the family Arecaceae (Palrnae). The mature stems yield the canes that are utilized for a variety of furniture, basketry and handicraft items. Being a lignocellulosic material like wood, rattans also have certain inherent limitations with respect to their durability, susceptibility to fungal discolouration and weathering. However, in recent years, the processing technology for rattans has considerably improved and techniques for treatment, processing and finishing have been developed which have enabled substantial value addition of rattan products.
Due to the depletion of rattan resources and the shortage of raw material experienced, the rattan industry in South and Southeast Asian countries is already facing a setback. Uncertainty in availability of raw material has been the main impediment for the industry. To overcome the shortage, some countries have already taken to establishment of rattan pIantations which is a welcome sign for the development of the rattan sector. Besides scarcity of raw material, lack of a well developed trading network has been a handicap for the rattan sector in many Southeast Asian countries.
It is time to realise that attempts are required to rise to the occasion and give thought to conserving the rattan resources which have been one of the valuable non-timber forest resource in the region. In this regard, it is necessary to create awareness of the importance of resource among forestry personnel, the scientific community, NGOs, industrialists, traders and other individuals, policy-makers and governments. The present book which is a team effort by Dr. C Renuka and her group from KFRI, is an attempt in this line which will go a long way in achieving the objective."