There are over 1200 species of bamboo and 650 species of rattan, many of which are used for subsistence or for income generation — overharvesting and lack of management threatens the survival of some of these species. Some species of bamboo are themselves under threat due to over harvesting (eg Qiongzhuea tumidinoda in China), whilst others are known only from single locations and could be threatened if the habitat comes under pressure.

Bamboo offers an important habitat to numerous animals, birds, insects and plants which benefit from its presence through the provision of food, shade and shelter, nutrient recycling, and water (aquifer) storage. Bamboos are habitats to many endangered animal species, including the Giant Panda (China), Mountain gorilla (Uganda/Rwanda), lesser and greater bamboo lemurs (Madagascar), and bamboo bats (China). Thirty four species of birds are known to rely on bamboo in the Amazon. Over 1000 species of fungi have been recorded growing on bamboos, many of which are not found on any other species. As there are so many species of bamboos, details about their specific attributes and the services to biodiversity they provide is difficult generalize, as is their description and role within ecosystems. For example, some monopodial bamboo species are the dominant species in their ecosystem, and in parts of Southern China, India and South America these bamboo forests can cover thousands of hectares and host species which are indigenous only to them. Other bamboos grow as only one of many species supported by an ecosystem and have very different relationships with their surrounding environment.

INBAR’s work on biodiversity includes:

Aside from climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, bamboo provides a range of other environmental services: