From: Julian Moll-Rocek, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published December 12, 2014 10:03 AM

New report finds bamboo may help mitigate climate change, reduce fossil fuel use, protect forests

Restoring degraded land and forests with the world’s fastest growing plant, bamboo, can contribute to major carbon emission reductions. This is according to a new report released at the COP20 in Lima by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) that discusses the massive potential of bamboo in fighting global warming, with bamboo forests projected to store more than one million tons of carbon by 2050 in China alone.

“This is a truly remarkable plant,” said Director General of INBAR Dr. Hans Friederich, encouraging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to explicitly recognize bamboo as a strategic resource in combating climate change and for creating sustainable development policy, regulation and investment plans.

INBAR is composed of 40 member countries and is dedicated to improving the livelihoods of poor farmers and users of bamboo and rattan, and promoting sustainable development with environmentally friendly practices. Bamboo offers a number of benefits, according to Friederich, including rapid restoration, large-scale carbon sequestration, supplying a sustainable source of energy, and providing raw material for construction, textiles, household products, furniture, and an increasing list of other innovative uses. INBAR has a number of programs targeting climate change, environmental sustainability, poverty, sustainable construction, and trade development. The organization also supports market access for growers and innovation in bamboo and rattan products. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, appeared at the 2013 COP in Warsaw, Poland, riding a bamboo bicycle.

Despite its tree-like appearance, fast-growing bamboo is actually a member of the grass family, Poaceae. Often associated with Asia as the primary food source for the endangered giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), bamboo is pan-tropical, with more than 1,250 native species growing across the globe in the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Bamboo is also part of the diet of the critically endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) living in tropical forests in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the INBAR report, bamboo has many benefits. Bamboo forests can help mitigate global warming by sequestering carbon at sites that have been deforested or degraded more quickly and at a higher rate than many tree species. For instance, the report references studies that project carbon stored in Chinese bamboo forests to increase from 727 million metric tons in 2010 to 1,018 million metric tons in 2050 -- or by nearly 40 percent in as many years.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, MONGABAY.COM.

Bamboo image via Shutterstock.


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