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Five ways bamboo can fight climate change

Stories
9Sep
To combat climate change, bamboo should be a core development resource – providing countries and development partners with a wealth of practical solutions to reduce the negative effects that changing climate patterns have on millions of rural communities.
Below we demonstrate five key ways that bamboo can help countries mitigate/adapt to the impacts of climate change:
#1: Sequestering carbon
Bamboo’s fast-growing and renewable stands sequester carbon in their biomass – at rates comparable to or superior than many tree species. The many durable products made from bamboo can also be potentially carbon negative because they act as locked-in carbon sinks in themselves and encourage the expansion and improved management of bamboo forests.
Substantial amounts of carbon are stored in the bamboo forests of China, the world’s largest, and the total will increase as planned reforestation programmes expand. The carbon stored in Chinese bamboo forests is projected to increase from 727 million tonnes in 2010 to 1018 million tonnes in 2050.
#2: Reducing carbon release 
Bamboo helps avoid fossil fuel use by offering an alternative, highly renewable source of biomass energy. Studies show that bamboo charcoal has a calorific value similar to that of wood charcoal – with far less pollution.
#3: Adaptation
The plant’s rapid establishment and growth allow frequent harvesting which limits exposure to disaster and allows farmers to flexibly adapt their management and harvesting practices to new growing conditions as they emerge under climate change.
#4: Restoration
Bamboo is integral to many natural and agricultural ecosystems in and near the tropics. It is useful for restoring degraded lands for several reasons: it thrives on problem soils and steep slopes that are unsuitable for other crops, it is an effective windbreak, and its sturdy rhizomes and roots regulate water flows and prevent erosion.
A recently-documented case in Allahabad, India, tells of the rebuilding of rural livelihoods where 80,000 hectares of degraded land were brought back into productivity using bamboo as a pioneer species.
#5: Livelihoods
Bamboo is a versatile and rapidly renewable resource with a wide range of livelihood applications in traditional economies. Its economic role is likely to expand at an accelerating pace – both locally and in international trade – as other forest resources become increasingly strained under climate change, as the imperative to mitigate climate change enforces less dependence on fossil fuels and endangered forest resources, and as research discovers new applications.
Bamboo lends itself to over 10,000 documented products – everything from furniture and paper to fabrics, processed flooring, and climate-smart housing. Bamboo alone will not solve the world’s climate change problems. But, if this strategic resource is properly harnessed, it offers practical solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation – and a proven tool to fight rural poverty and restore the natural resource base that is the foundation for economic sustainability.