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UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE (UNFCCC) / BAMBOO AND RATTAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

INBAR CLIMATE CHANGE POSITION PAPER

Bamboo is an extremely strategic resource for countries to combat the negative effects of climate change and should be incorporated into countries’ national climate change plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) as soon as possible following the Paris Agreement.

Bamboo and rattan’s benefits for climate change mitigation are as follows:

  • LARGE-SCALE CARBON SEQUESTRATION

    Well-managed bamboo forests can sequester significantly more carbon than similar tree forest areas.

  • REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINTS OF PRODUCTS

    Bamboo and rattan have more than 10,000 uses. They can replace materials with high carbon emissions, such as PVC, steel and concrete, also reducing pressure on use of forest timber resources.

  • BAMBOO CHARCOAL IS 100% RENEWABLE

    An ideal local energy source for Africa and tropical countries. It helps protect against deforestation.

  • BAMBOO FOR GREEN ELECTRICITY

    Emerging biogas technologies have the potential to supply clean power – at small and larger scales.

  • BAMBOO FOR GREEN ELECTRICITY5

    Emerging biogas technologies have the potential to supply clean power – at small and larger scales.5

Bamboo and rattan’s benefits for climate change adaptation are as follows:

  • CLIMATE-SMART HOUSING

    Bamboo building materials are strong and flexible. They protect millions of rural people from disasters such as flooding and landslides.

  • LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT

    Bamboo grows rapidly. It restores degraded lands and protects forests. It also helps regulate rural water flow and guards against soil erosion.

  • RATTAN FOR FOREST PRESERVATION

    This plant brings income to forest communities, who, in turn, protect the forest to ensure a healthy rattan supply.

  • PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE INCOME TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES

    Over 8 million people in China have their livelihoods from bamboo.

Bamboo and rattan’s benefits for climate change adaptation are as follows:

  • PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE INCOME TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES

    Over 8 million people in China have their livelihoods from bamboo.

Including bamboo in climate change policies and rural development investments makes countries’ sustainable development goals more effective. Bamboo is a vast untapped strategic resource that countries in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical regions can use to better manage climate change, and provide beneficial ‘ecosystem services’ and new income sources for their rural populations.

In developing strategies, action plans and investment options to deal with climate change, countries and development agencies can include bamboo in the range of tested approaches available. This highly productive plant grows faster than trees, is extremely effective in sequestering carbon, and brings new livelihood options and income to communities and nations.

Two obstacles to bamboo’s more rapid development are the current lack of appreciation of its significant benefits by national policy makers; and the classification of this grass species under forestry regulations, curtailing wider beneficial use for frequent harvesting and trade.

Addressing and managing the effects of climate change are at the centre of countries’ sustainable development agendas and their challenge for building green economies. Bamboo is a strategic resource that offers many countries a wealth of practical solutions to climate change. It contributes to mitigation, adaptation and development to climate change, is easy to adopt, and brings a multitude of benefits, which include:

In developing strategies, action plans and investment options today, countries and development agencies are building on decades of past experience in forestry, agriculture and natural resource management. A range of tested approaches is emerging. But few of these include bamboo. This highly productive plant grows faster than trees, is extremely effective in sequestering carbon, restores degraded landscapes in months as opposed to years, and brings new income and livelihood options to villages that have been hit by degraded soils and loss of vegetation.

‘CLIMATE-SMART’ POLICY ACTION AND OPTIONS

Bamboo alone will not solve the world’s climate change problems. But it is a perfect complement to land restoration and forestry strategies in the planet’s subtropical belt. Including bamboo in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and land restoration strategies makes national plans more effective and brings a range of ‘climate-smart’ options to national and regional climate change strategies. For this to happen, decision makers, environmental planners and development programs need to better understand the properties and benefits of this versatile plant, and how it adds value to current national and regional strategies. A global body of evidence is emerging on how bamboo sequesters carbon at a very rapid rate and how it rapidly rejuvenates degraded lands, returning soil fertility as a first stage in longer-term agroforestry and agricultural re-development. Should all relevant countries have a ‘bamboo strategy‘ for sustainable development and climate change? This is one approach. But it is clear that that the value of bamboo needs to be better recognised and valued by decision makers and planners. It should be explicitly included as a strategic resource that brings documented benefits to national climate change, environment and sustainable development strategies and for plans for developing agroforestry and rural development. For all countries located in the world’s topical and sub-tropical agro-ecosystems, bamboo can bring direct environmental and financial benefits to populations. The two obstacles to bamboo’s more rapid development are: the current lack of appreciation by national policy makers managing forestry, environmental services and agriculture, of its potential; and the fact that – while it is biologically a grass species - bamboo often falls under forestry regulations, curtailing beneficial use for frequent harvesting and trade.

BAMBOO FOR CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

Bamboo plays many roles in mitigating the effects of climate change. It is fast-growing and renewable, sequestering similar amounts of carbon to fast-growing tree species, and the many durable products made from bamboo act as locked-in carbon sinks. As an alternative to timber wood, using bamboo helps countries avoid further forest destruction and loss of forest sequestration, but also biodiversity loss and other long-term, irreversible, damage. Bamboo helps avoid use of non-renewable fuels by offering an alternative, highly renewable source of biomass energy, both as a substitute for wood fuel and charcoal, and fossil fuels in power generation. Bamboo is integral to many natural and agricultural ecosystems in and near the tropics. It is useful for restoring degraded lands as it thrives on poor soils and steep slopes that are unsuitable for other crops and is an effective pioneer crop for landscape restoration. The annual but selective harvesting required to maximise bamboo stands' productivity means that a green canopy of bamboo is always maintained over the soil, and the substantive, expanding underground rhizome system helps bind the soil even more.

BAMBOO FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Bamboo helps rural communities become less vulnerable to climate change when they include it in sustainable forestry and agroforestry systems. The plant’s rapid establishment and growth allow frequent harvesting, which limits exposure to disaster, and let farmers flexibly adapt their management and harvesting practices to new growing conditions as they emerge under climate change. Climate-smart bamboo housing and various forms of bamboo bioenergy help governments and communities build sustainability.

LANDSCAPE 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.

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 integrates well into many mixed production systems, providing forest products that farmers and foresters would otherwise have to source, often unsustainably, from fragile natural forests.