The raw material Lokta is a bark of the Lokta plant - a sapling stick of about 5 to 7 feet in length - also sometimes referred to as the paper tree. The word Lokta refers to one of the local species of Daphne Cannabina or Daphne Papyracea - a small woody plant of Laurel family. It is also familiar to Nepalese people by the name of Baruwa or Kaagte Paat. Best quality of Lokta stick usually grows and exists at an attitude of 6000 to 10000 ft. in the Himalayan forest of the Nepa highlands.
October signals the season beginning Lokta collection. It is harvested in a manner similar to sugar cane, cutting it close to the base of the plant. The plant has a unique feature which allows it to regenerate to maturity again within 4 to 5 years after being cut. The harvesting process actually helps the forest continue to grow because if the lokta was allowed to continue to grow past maturity it would dry up and begin to decay, preventing any new growth. Thus, by plucking Lokta sticks out, neither the forest is destroyed nor harm is done to the fragile forest ecology. The hand production of Lokta paper gives a source of income to paper crafting families and village communities in Nepal.
Lokta Paper Characteristics
- Long lasting and durable
- Strong and easily foldable without any crinkle and corrugation
- Free from germs and highly resistant to the insects