“The time is right for bamboo”: Brazil’s Senator Jorge Viana has pledged that Brazil will use bamboo and become part of a global industry worth USD 60 billion
6 November, Beijing – Brazil has joined INBAR, marking a turning point in the country’s natural resource management.
Speaking at the flag raising ceremony in Beijing, Brazil’s Senator Jorge Viana praised the move as an important one for Brazil. “As an emerging country, with a serious commitment to protecting the natural environment and fighting climate change”, Viana said, “Brazil believes the time is right for bamboo.” Senator Viana cited bamboo’s potential to create jobs, restore degraded land and store carbon as particularly important ways Brazil wanted to use bamboo.
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass which grows across the tropics and subtropics. With an estimated 31 million hectares, it is used by rural communities and governments alike for creating handicrafts, furniture, as well as for its environmental benefits: restoring degraded land, preventing water runoff and providing a clean-burning, renewable alternative to traditional cooking fuels. Its annual trade value has been estimated at some USD 60 billion.
Although Brazil has over 200 species of bamboo and one million hectares of native bamboo, so far the plant has not featured in several key environmental initiatives, such as the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact or the country’s climate change commitments. According to Viana, Brazil is “ready and willing to realise the full potential of our bamboo resources.”
As the 43rd Member state of INBAR, Brazil will become part of a global network that aims to realise bamboo and rattan’s full potential for green development. As well as undertaking country-specific projects and training, INBAR member states have previously made important contributions to international commitments. In 2014, INBAR committed to reforest 5 million hectares of degraded land using bamboo, as part of the international Bonn Challenge initiative.
For Brazil, the potential for bamboo is large. As a grass species which stores carbon at a particularly fast rate, bamboo has been used by countries such as China as part of their carbon emissions trading scheme. Regionally, Guadua bamboo, one of Brazil’s most cultivated bamboo types, is already widely used across Colombia and Ecuador for building safe, earthquake-resistant houses.
And importantly, bamboo can be used to make thousands of different products, from paper and packaging to flooring and furniture. According to Dr Hans Friederich, Director General of INBAR, “Bamboo really is a ‘green gold’ – it’s used across the world for everything from paper and packaging to flooring and furniture. With Brazil’s bamboo resources and serious commitment to environmental protection, bamboo can be a really important part of the country’s growth.”