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South-South update: identifying bamboos’ benefits

News
12Oct

As part of our South-South project, INBAR sends scientists to train partners in Africa on how to uncover the environmental benefits of bamboo.

From reducing soil erosion and preventing water runoff to improving soil quality and storing carbon, bamboo has many useful environmental applications.  INBAR dedicates time to spreading the word about bamboo’s use for land restoration, climate change mitigation and other urgent policy problems.

However, the huge number of bamboo species can make it hard to know which works best for specific issues. There are over 1,500 species of bamboo across the globe. Each bamboo species grows in a particular agro-climatic niche, has unique growth parameters, canopy structure, leaf area, root area and soil binding capabilities. In addition, the physical properties of bamboo vary across species; this impacts the utilization. Considering the number of species, it becomes essential to undertake research, collect and analyse data on the allometrics and environmental metrics of different bamboo species. This will help us empirically validate the environmental benefits of bamboo.

Recognizing this, INBAR’s project on “South-South knowledge transfer strategies”, jointly co-financed by IFAD and the EU, stresses the need to quantify the allometric and environmental properties of bamboo, and build the capacity of African partner agencies to undertake this much-needed research.

Dr. Rajesh Kaushal, a Senior Scientist from the Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, is working with INBAR to undertake research on soil and water conservation. India is a key knowledge partner of the South-South project. Recently, Dr. Kaushal imparted training on research methodologies to local agencies and national institutions in the project’s three beneficiary countries: Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania. Training participants included researchers and managers from the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute; the Amhara Bureau of Agriculture; members of various IFAD loan projects in Ethiopia; the Tanzania Forest Service and Tanzania Forest Research Institute. Researchers and lecturers from local universities were also trained.

Training included classroom sessions as well as field exercises for data collection. Topics of discussion included: research design and methodology, morphological and phonological observation, assessing bamboo growth parameters, biomass estimation, and nutrient cycling. The training included instruction on data collection, as well as the analysis and interpretation of results.

Field exercises included a practical demonstration of how to collect data using scientific equipment, and find out important statistics about things such as growth parameters, biomass, root distribution, litter collection, diversity measurement, and soil sampling.

A total of 52 participants from various academic, research and development departments participated from the three countries. According to Dr. Kaushal, training was successful in enhancing participants’ understanding: something “ we can say with confidence on the basis of pre- and post-evaluation of the trainees.”

One of the participants was Mr. Abiot Molla, Lecturer, from Debre Markos University, Ethiopia. “The training was very relevant”, Mr. Molla said. “It gave us plenty of practical knowledge.”