Rattan plays an important role in the life of a small Semai community in West Malaysia. Of the 24 rattan species occurring in the study area, four are frequently used for binding, house building, basketry, fish traps and snares, and other artifacts. Some species are used for food, medicinal, and ritual purposes. The Semai have a profound knowledge of nature and have a good concept of rattan systematics that comes very close to scientific classification. Demand for rattan for commercial use threatens the rattan populations and has led to heavy depletion of some of the most useful species.
Cultivation of the small diameter rattan canes, [Calamus caesius] and [C. trachycoleus], is now feasible but sylvicultural techniques need refinement, particularly in the manipulation of light regimes by opening of the canopy of support trees, and the problems of efficient harvesting need to be addressed. Unfortunately, large diameter canes have proved to be less promising as sylvicultural subjects, while, at the same time, demand is high and wild stocks are seriously depleted. The potential of small diameter cane as a crop for marginal lands in the humid tropics is great, particularly as a smallholder's crop, but the prospects for cultivation of larger canes are less certain.