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1000 ‘Bamboo villages’: can Indonesia’s model inspire other bamboo resource countries?

Stories
29Mar
Bamboo plays a central role in Indonesia’s climate change mitigation efforts. The country is strengthening the capacity of local communities so they can get the most from this valuable resource – which boosts rural household incomes, protects natural resources, and ‘locks in’ carbon through sequestration.
Bamboo is integral to many rural communities across Indonesia. It has been used for centuries to build homes and produce household items. But, as the global bamboo sector grows, driven by increasing demand in Europe and North America, these rural communities can tap new opportunities for even higher gains.
The environment will also benefit. Bamboo production means more carbon sequestration: the plant ‘locks in’ carbon at rates greater than some trees, and helps reduce pressure on Indonesia’s fragile forest resources as the plant provides an alternative to tropical hardwood.
This potential is being realised through a national plan to create 1000 ‘bamboo villages.’ These are bamboo-producing communities that have been identified to receive additional government support so their production can be scaled up and transformed into profitable globally competitive enterprises.
How will the ‘1000 villages’ model work?
Communities will have full responsibility for the planting, management and primary processing of bamboo. Efforts will target three key industries: bamboo laminates, bamboo textiles, and paper and pulp. Ongoing technical support from government agencies will help communities overcome key production constraints, including the impacts of termites and fungus, a common problem holding back the plant’s potential.
This all feeds into a national carbon sequestration target – targeting 100 megatons of carbon per annum over the coming decade. It further supports Indonesian attempts to strengthen resilience to the negative effects of climate change, including floods and erosion. Bamboo has extensive root systems that help bind topsoil and slow water runoff. It can thrive on problem soils.
Presented at last week’s climate change summit in Paris by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Environment Bamboo Foundation, an advocacy group located in Bali, the initiative is part of an integrated strategy to deliver on the country’s contributions to global climate change mitigation.
Home to 10 per cent of the world’s rainforest, Indonesian leadership in this area is critically important, argued Hans Friederich, Director General of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), speaking at the presentation: “While Indonesia still has one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest, it has also lost some 80 million hectares of degraded, unproductive land.”
The climate change summit, Friederich went on to suggest, provided an opportunity for Indonesia to harness bamboo even more effectively – including the plant’s production in its climate change action plans and committing to bamboo-led land restoration schemes, which offer a rapid response to severe land degradation and erosion the country suffers from.
Referring to the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan (GABAR), a new knowledge base of global bamboo and rattan resources, Friederich hoped Indonesia, as an INBAR member country, would contribute to the initiative, providing the information the country would need to unlock the potential of the plant.
GABAR will help clarify what species are available and where, and provide much-needed information on properties and agro-ecological characteristics –helping to inform production strategies and ensure that initiatives like ‘one thousand bamboo villages’ become a success.