Bamboo based Multipurpose Windbreak - An Effective Measure for Reduction of Wind Disaster in Tripura

Prasenjit Choudhury, Nabarun Paul and Pawan K Kaushik

Forest Research Centre for Livelihood Extension, Agartala

May 20, 2020, 11:02:28   


Windbreak, the name suggests that it is mainly used to break the wind-flow and reduce wind speed. Windbreaks are barriers planted on borders of farm plots that help to slow down the speed of winds. Usually consisting of trees and shrubs, they also may integrate perennial or annual crops, tall grasses, wooden fences, or other materials. The mainly purpose is to provide a protected environment to save the crops from damage by strong winds and thus helps in obtaining higher yields, controlling erosion, creating habitat for wildlife, yielding tree products besides improving the landscape aesthetics.

An ideal windbreak is composed of several rows of trees planted at spacing that will give a particular reduction in wind speed, without eddying or turbulence that would be caused by an impenetrable screen. 

According to their uses, Windbreaks can be divided as:

  1. Farmstead Windbreaks: These windbreaks are used for protecting the buildings, cattle shelters, greenhouses etc. from strong winds.

  2. Field Windbreaks: Functions of these windbreaks are to regulate soil erosion and protect the crop against turbulent winds.

  3. Living Snow Fences: These windbreaks are established for trapping the snow before it drifts onto lane ways or farmyards.

The first two windbreaks are suitable and applicable in case of wind disasters in Tripura

In Tripura, cyclone has been a havoc which had caused huge economic embarrassment due to loss of life, crops and properties. The storms, in the year 2012, damaged about 5,000 houses and uprooted several electric posts and trees. In case of crops, a perennial crop like Rubber suffers a lot due to cyclone that usually takes place during the month from April to July in almost every year. Rubber growers reportedly faced huge hardship due to cyclone in the state. In April 2014, a total of 1450 houses were damaged and a large population was displaced from their homes due to the cyclone in North Tripura and other parts of Tripura. In June 2015, about 200 families were displaced from their houses in Ambassa sub-division of Dhalai district and many trees and electric posts were uprooted due to the storm over night. A total of 250 houses were totally damaged and more than 1000 houses partly damaged due to the cyclone and hailstorm over night at Lakkhipur village under Jirania subdivision of West Tripura district, in March 2016. 200 families were evicted from their houses from two villages - Shabdakarpara and Bongshipara and they took shelter in government buildings near Jirania.

Windbreak obstructs the wind flow and alters flow patterns both upwind of the barrier (windward zone) and downwind of the barrier (leeward zone).  As wind approaches a windbreak, some of the air passes through the barrier while the rest flows around the ends of the barrier or is forced up and over the barrier.  Due to the pressure fields wind speed is reduced and a protected zone is created which extends for a distance of 2H to 5H in the windward zone and 10H to 30H in the leeward zone (where H is the height of the barrier).

Points to remember before setting a windbreak:-

Windbreak height (H) is the most important factor determining the extent of the area to be protected.

Windbreaks should be perpendicular to the wind.

The length of a windbreak should be at least ten times its height to minimize the effect of wind flow around the ends of the windbreak.

Increased flow around the ends or through a gap directly reduces the extent of the protected zone and reduces windbreak effectiveness. So windbreak continuity is also very important.

Benefits of windbreaks:-
  1. Reduction in soil erosion form wind.

  2. Protects plants from wind related damages.

  3. Alter microenvironment for enhancing plant growth.

  4. Improves irrigation efficiency.

  5. Provides shelter for structures, livestock and recreational areas. 

  6. Enhance wildlife habitat by providing travel corridors. 

To attain the above mentioned benefits the orientation (location & layout) of the windbreak should be perpendicular to troublesome winds and also it should connect fragmented habitat of targeted species in case of enhancing wildlife habitat, species- mix of deciduous & conifer, height-match heights of vegetation in potential plant community , density- 60-80 %, width- normally 3-5 rows but can exceed, management- maintain density through pruning , thinning, or planting, operation and maintenance- replace dead stock in first 3-5 years and control damaging agents, limitations- Limited protection  initially.

Why bamboo is most suitable for windbreak in Tripura: 

In view of the characteristics of Bamboo species available in Tripura and also the literature available at "bamboo-Inspiration" website, bamboos shall be potential component in terms of the followings -

Flexibility- It is a much flexible plant and will bend and sway in the strongest wind speeds with only the very youngest culms suffering damage. They are likely to bend within the wind as against blowing over. Bamboos have the power to bend to ground level under the load of snow, ice, or heavy rains, and high winds, then straighten copy to their full height once the conditions have eased.

Root Mass-  A mature grove features a root mass that maintains anchorage within the ground in extreme weather. This means, it is unlikely to cause damage or a danger to people as it does not get uprooted in the same way as individual trees in gales, hurricanes, and tornados.

Stability- the steadiness of a bamboo windbreak or grove reportedly offers protection to people and property in extreme weather, the high speed winds, and even in earthquakes. The bamboo groves offer protection in the event of an earthquake due to the huge root mass which stabilizes the earth which results with a low risk of danger through culms falling and causing injury.

Multipurpose use of Bamboo:

Bamboo is used locally for handicrafts, culms od few species are also used in bamboo-wood industry of the state. It can be planted for land rehabilitation of degraded lands and riverbank stabilisation etc.

Bamboo also used locally for manufacturing of bamboo furniture, chopsticks etc.

Bamboo after treatment, used for building bamboo houses and also for manufacturing of high quality furniture from bamboo-wood.

It is also used for making kitchen utensils. 

Some varieties are often used for landscaping.

In rural areas bamboo is reliable and cheap source of house construction.

More over the handicraft industry can provide a good income source for livelihood in these days.

Suitable species for establishment of windbreak in Tripura and other North Eastern States are- 

1st row (Windward side):- Bambusa polymorpha, Melocanna beccifera, Bambusa balcooa, Bambusa tulda, Agava sisalana, Tactona grandis, Dipterocarpus so., Calotropis procera, Euphorbia sp., Lawsonia alba, Tephrosia candida etc.

2nd row (Middle):- Acacia sp., Bombex ceiba, Dalbergia sissoo, Shorea robusta, Anacardium occidentale, Toona ciliata, Eucalyptus sp., Cocos nucifera, Terminalia arjuna, Artocarpus integrifoia, Eugenia sp., Azadirachta indica, Tectona grandis etc. Thysanolaena maxima and Schumanianthus dichotoma intercropping. 

3rd row (Leeward side):- Bambusa spp., Artocarpus sp., Azadirachta indica, Eugenia sp., Mangifera indica, Zyzyphus sp, Shorea robusta etc.

Tripura is the second largest producer of Rubber. Rubber plantations are very badly affected during the rainy season, due to high wind speed. Large numbers of rubber plants are uprooted. Bamboo based Windbreaks shall be much effective in protection of rubber plantations from Norwesters in Tripura and thus the huge loss can be minimized.

In coming days, it is expected that a large number of upcoming infrastructures, houses and crops may be under especially in the hilly areas in Tripura due to high wind speed. The bamboo based multipurpose windbreaks may be much effective in reduction of such wind disaster. 


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