This World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, INBAR reflects on its work with bamboo for land restoration.
Bamboo is an excellent tool for restoring degraded lands. Its extensive root system binds soil and protects against erosion; its leaves provide a year-round supply of soil nutrients where it grows; and it is emerging in many communities as a practical option for perennial animal fodder, supporting the livelihoods of communities living on degraded and marginal lands.
INBAR is helping to restore land around the world in the following ways:
- Working with our Member States. INBAR Member States are exploring options for achieving land degradation neutrality through bamboo. Ghana is using bamboo to ‘re-green’ dump sites and the quarries of former mining areas; Ethiopia’s Sustainable Land Management Programme is promoting bamboo as a strategic resource to control erosion and restore degraded upper catchments; China is integrating bamboo into its initiative to convert 29 million ha of marginal sloping agricultural land into forests.
- Leading by doing. Since 1997, bamboo has been used to restore severely degraded lands around the city of Allahabad, North India – with remarkable success. This barren, unproductive landscape (the result of overuse for brick-making back in the 1960s) has been transformed: by 2014, bamboo was providing about 10 per cent of the total annual incomes of the farmers and added 6-8 inches of humus to the soil each year. Bamboo also helped raise the water table by over 15 metres in under twenty years. The scheme has since expanded to other parts of Northern India, and has regenerated over 85,000 ha of land in many different districts. Watch our video for more information.
- Working with UNCCD. INBAR is a Permanent Observer to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and uses its Conferences of the Parties to spread the word about bamboo’s usefulness for land restoration.
- Contributing to the Bonn challenge. The Bonn Challenge is an ambitious international pledge to restore 150 million ha of degraded and deforested lands by 2020. INBAR’s Member States made a bold contribution to this, committing in 2014 to convert at least 5 million hectares of degraded land into productive, healthy bamboo forests.
We at INBAR believe that desertification can be tackled, and remain committed to spreading the word about bamboo’s usefulness. Happy World Day to Combat Desertification!
To find out more:
- Benton A. 2014. Greening Red Earth: Restoring landscapes, rebuilding lives.
- October 2015. ‘Bamboo: A strategic resource to achieve land degradation neutrality’. Statement to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of the Parties (COP 12).
- 2017. UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)/Bamboo and Rattan for Land Restoration. Accessible at: www.inbar.int/policy