A chip off the old block

Unique museum

A piece of teak wood with a girth of 4.3 meters has been lying in the Institute of Wood Science and Technology since its inception.

The tree was planted during the birth of the East India Company in the 1600s and lived through a plethora of historic events that has shaped the future of the nation –– from the birth of Shivaji in 1630 to the Battle of Plassey in the 18th century and from the creation of the Khalsa in 1699 to the Quit India Movement in 1942.

The tree appears to have been finally brought down after Independence. The total life of the tree is estimated at 364 years. Such are the tales of the pieces of wood at the Wood Museum that was inaugurated on Wednesday.

The museum, which speaks about the pre-historic days to the current technological era, has a spectacular collection of information that enlightens the visitor with the science behind the life of wood.

From its various layers to its different uses, the museum makes an effort to speak to the audience by its own existence. From the heaviest piece of timber to the lightest feather weight wood, samples of teak and rose wood are all on display at the museum.
The museum speaks of the wood’s life from its growth to its degeneration when it becomes old.

It is vouched by scientists at the institute that wood is perhaps the second thing that pre-historic man found to be useful. Scientists at the institute believe that wood can be a better substitute for draining out the minerals which are found underneath.

“Deforestation and its adverse impact can be controlled if wood is used efficiently. We need to look at ensuring that wood is used for producing various products and reduce the use of metals and minerals,” said Y B Srinivasa, a scientist who was instrumental in setting up the museum.

According to the scientist, the use of wood can be increased with the help of having dedicated productive forests or sanctuaries for various purposes.

“For example, in India, farmers are buying the indigenous Melia Dubia, a variety of wood that is primarily used for producing plywood. In fact, people have gone a step ahead by using it to produce pulp and paper,” he said.

Srinivasa said saplings are in demand for the simple reason that they yield increased returns in a span of 12 years and they can thus, be re-cultivated. “However, apart from private enterprises, such productive saplings are never cultivated in a productive and dedicated set up. There is no policy at the government level to have a productive tree forest in the country,” he said.

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