In his most recent formal engagement with the host country since his appointment as Director General, Dr Hans Friederich was welcomed by Zhao Shucong, Minister of Forestry of China and senior representative of the host state to INBAR, to the State Forestry Administration in Beijing.
Mr. Zhao congratulated Dr Friederich on his appointment and welcomed him warmly. Mr Zhao said that he “hoped that more and more people in the world will recognise the significant roles that bamboo and rattan can play, especially their roles in combining environmental sustainability with livelihood development, and hoped that more and more countries that have bamboo and rattan resources, as well as those that consume bamboo and rattan products, will join INBAR.” He noted that China recognizes INBAR as an important organization and pledged that China will continue to support INBAR to enhance the achievement of it’s vision and mission.
In reply, Dr Friederich said that he “looks forward to evolving INBAR from a research focused organization to one that plays its rightful role on the international stage, promoting bamboo and rattan sectors in its member countries and increasing the role of bamboo and rattan in a wide range of green development issues, including climate change, environmental sustainability and economic and livelihoods development where their potential is yet to be fully realized.”
INBAR’s location in China is one of its strengths, enabling it to easily tap world-beating expertise and experience, particularly in bamboo sector development. China’s bamboo sector is widely regarded as the foremost in the world, with over 700 species covering a total of 6.73 million hectares, 5.38 million of which are managed plantations, a figure almost double the 1976 area. Production rose rapidly from 74 million poles in 1976 to 1.15 billion in 2012. China’s bamboo sector employs 7.75 million people, and was valued at $19 bn in 2012, with annual exports of $2.39 bn mostly to Japan and South Korea, North America and Europe.
INBAR has worked with China on bamboo-based development since its inception. Its most recently completed project in China, the EU-funded “Eco-Friendly, Pro-Poor Bamboo Production Chain project” worked in Sichuan province to help rebuild lives and livelihoods after the devastating 2008 earthquake. The project helped over 10, 000 farmers who were not working on bamboo to gain steady incomes from supplying bamboo to new processing centres, and increased production and productivity, and employment in the processing centres. The project helped the sector grow by 18% per annum in its target townships in the province. Production of bamboo boards increased by 33% between 2008 and 2012, substituting for 186,000 square metres of tree-wood floorboards and so reducing the demand on timber forests. The project also improved the market and policy environment in which the businesses operate for longer term sustainability.
China has ambitious goals for its bamboo sector. Between 2011 and 2015, it plans to plant 540,000 ha of new bamboo forests and improve 1.9 million ha of existing forests, as well as increase the number of people working in the sector to 8.8 million, with an average annual per capita income from bamboo of 1,100 RMB ($183 USD), accounting for over 15% of farmer’s total income.
Dr Friederich said of his appointment as INBAR Director General, “I look forward to helping strengthen INBAR’s collaboration with the host state, to helping enhance China’s own sector where possible, and to fostering better links between all INBAR’s member countries for sustainable development with bamboo and rattan all over the world. INBAR is very grateful to the host state for its continuing and considerable support, and I look to building on that support to enable INBAR to play its rightful role in the global debate on how best to achieve sustainable green development now, and well into the future.”